Dirk Nowitzki’s final wish, as a member of the German national team in 2011 at Eurobasket was to secure a birth at the Olympic Games in London.
The Dallas Mavericks veteran though was clearly fatigued and instead, he and Germany bowed out at the second stage in Vilnius to host nation Lithuania.
It rocked Germany, knowing that its biggest basketball export might not possibly play for the national team again. The rebuilding phase began with a perfect eight wins from eight in the qualifying tournament for Eurobasket in Slovenia last year.
Unfortunately when they got to Slovenia, it went downhill again. They were eliminated in the first round in Ljubljana and left German basketball fans wondering: what’s next?
He might need a few more years of maturing but 20-year-old Atlanta Hawks guard Dennis Schroeder is a good tip for the future in German basketball. With a number of players entering the prime of their careers, the Braunschweig-born youngster is keen to be a leader in whatever he does, and that is something that bodes well for his career.
“Everywhere I go I try to be a leader for the team,” Schroeder said. “I try to put the team together and try to be successful on the court and try to win games.”
The NBA rookie was assigned to the Bakersfield Jam in the D-League earlier in the season and while there, Schroeder learned a lot. He averaged 17 points in just six games and has come back a better player, albeit still raw.
Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer still thinks he needs more time to blossom but has said that he is impressed with the German’s work ethic.
“I like him a lot,” The Hawks coach admitted. “His work ethic is first class and he is maturing quicker than most youngsters I have seen. He needs a few years to gain a certain leadership mentality, but he’ll get there. He’s in a good place to gain that quality.”
Schroeder’s ultimate goal as a German though is the Rio Olympics in 2016. Germany are in the Eurobasket qualifiers for the 2015 tournament in Ukraine where the top two go through and the teams that finish third though to sixth earn a spot in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament before the nations head to Brazil in 2016.
“We are trying to work hard for it,” he says. “For the German national team it means a lot to play in the Olympics and to be successful.”