German veteran star Dirk Nowitzki is “super excited” about the country’s current generation that is headed to China for the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 and believes the team has a chance to reach the Quarter-Finals.
Nowitzki told the German language BIG magazine he followed Germany’s campaign during the European Qualifiers and expects big things from the side coached by Henrik Rodl.
“If everybody is healthy, then the DBB (German Basketball Federation) has assembled a great young group. With Daniel Theis, with Maxi (Kleber), with Dennis (Schroder) – that is a super exciting generation,” the 40-year-old said.
Nowitzki, who helped Germany to a third-place finish at the World Cup in 2002, says Germany could definitely use a healthy Paul Zipser as well. The former Chicago Bulls forward made his comeback for the national side in last month’s final window of the Qualifiers, scoring 15 points to go with 4 rebounds in 15 minutes against Israel. However, a foot injury forced him to sit out the final game at home against Greece.
“Hopefully Paul Zipser is fit again soon too,” Nowitzki said.
Nowitzki, who is expected to retire after the current NBA campaign – having spent all 21 seasons with the Dallas Mavericks – went on to say he’s enjoyed how Rodl has taken charge of the team during the Qualifiers.
“It’s been fun observing the positive development,” said Nowitzki, who played at two World Cups (2002 and 2006).
“IF EVERYBODY IS HEALTHY, THEN THE GERMAN FEDERATION HAS ASSEMBLED A GREAT YOUNG GROUP. WITH DANIEL THEIS, WITH MAXI (KLEBER), WITH DENNIS (SCHRODER) – THAT IS A SUPER EXCITING GENERATION.”- Nowitzki
The 2.13m (7ft) big man has high hopes the team will perform well in China.
“The guys have to fight through it and see how the tournament goes. I definitely believe the team has enough weapons,” said Nowitzki, who last played for the national team at the FIBA EuroBasket 2015.
The main weapon, according to Nowitzki, will be the Oklahoma City Thunder star Schroder.
“Especially if Dennis plays a super tournament, then everything is possible,” he said.
Nowitzki hopes Germany can perform well enough to qualify to the Tokyo 2020 Games and experience the Olympics, something he did in 2008, when he was Germany’s flag-bearer in Beijing.
“It would be a really great thing and an important step also for the federation to qualify for the Olympics,” Nowitzki noted. “Hopefully the guys play a great World Cup and fulfil this dream.”
The FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 will qualify directly 7 teams to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, while the 16 next best classified teams at the World Cup will get the chance of qualifying through one of the 4 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournaments 2020.
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