Germany coach Chris Fleming looked past the shooting percentage and praised Dennis Schroder, saying that he had his best game as the team’s leader and playmaker after his side’s 84-81 win over France in the second round at Eurobasket.
Schroder shot just 5/15 from the field, going for 33 percent overall but found his comfort zone at the foul line, going 11/11 to end with 21 points. But it was away from his scoring touch where the Atlanta Hawks guard showed his leadership under intense individual pressure.
The 23-year-old dished eight assists, pulled down four rebounds and got two steals as he was one of the main catalysts in Germany’s surprise win over a France side that were a mere shadow of the team that secured three straight Eurobasket podiums up until this point.
And Fleming, who currently is the assistant coach at the Brooklyn Nets praised Schroder’s overall mental toughness under pressure, as he hailed the point guard’s performance as his best as Germany’s new leader in the post-Dirk Nowitzki era.
“He was poised,” said Fleming at the post-game press conference. “Going into the game he had a very good picture of what was going to happen. They were going to try to get the ball out of his hands with multiple defenders, try to push him to the left hand and make his life hard for 40 minutes and I thought that especially when he didn’t make shots early and there a couple of calls that he could have got that he didn’t get them.
“He kept his poise and gave our guys a belief that we would get this done. He didn’t settle for jump shots, he got to the [hoop], guys rotated, he dumped the ball off and I feel that this was his best game and the one where he showed the most maturity as a leader and as a playmaker.”
As a team, it was Germany’s belief and the mental toughness that got the job done. On the statsheet, France got the better of them for the majority. They had more rebounds [39-28], more assists [21-16] and they shot the ball better, going for 47.8 percent compared to the German’s 45.9 percent from the field. But in this game, it was proven that stats do not necessarily secure the inevitable victory.
“Early on we had some really good shots but we couldn’t score and our guys were resilient and they kept up and they kept believing,” Fleming explained. “I thought at one point in the third they could see it and they really thought that we were going to win this game, it was very clear to them. I thought we did a good job at getting stops and finally some shots started falling for us, we haven’t shot the ball very well in this tournament until now and the guys resilience paid off in that situation.”
One of Germany’s major components in their victory, which ensures them a first quarter-final spot since Eurobasket 2007 was new Boston Celtics acquisition Daniel Theis. The 25-year-old forward went 8/9 from the field for a team-high 22 points but remains adamant that as long as the team win, it doesn’t matter how many points he totals.
“I don’t care about scoring, I just want to help my team to win,” Theis said. “If I get rebounds or share the ball, that’s okay for me so I’m just happy we won the game as a team. Today I made my shots. I made three-point shots and I made the lay-ups. I’m just happy.”
There’s on doubting though that despite Germany undergoing a time of transition, yet still relying on an ageing and clearly fatigued Nowitzki in 2011 and 2015, they have finally found new leaders in Schroder and Theis. Sure they might not be there for the World Cup qualifiers in November, when they face Serbia, Austria and Georgia in a challenging pool, but the Germans have returned to the main stage of international basketball for the time being.