Dhe German basketball players waved friendly into the audience, but Robin Benzing and his teammates really didn’t feel like laughing after the sporting embarrassment against Estonia. The national team and the new national coach Gordon Herbert made a huge false start at the beginning of the World Cup qualification. A core team, weakened by numerous failures, lost 66:69 (34:30) to the outsider in Nuremberg on Thursday and is already under heavy pressure after the first of six group games.
The best German throwers in front of 1000 spectators were Christian Sengfelder (21) and Captain Benzing (13), but it wasn’t enough against the Estonians who were particularly strong from the triple line. Kaspar Treier and Kristian Kullamae (15 each) were most successful for the guests. “We’re all just disappointed,” said Sengfelder. Herbert looked particularly hit. “We made too many easy throws. It is what it is, ”said the 62-year-old.
Herbert starts his tenure with a massive mortgage. In order to stay in the race for the 32 World Cup tickets after the false start, a victory for Benzing and Co. on Sunday evening (8:00 p.m. live on Magenta Sport) in Poland is almost a must.
Herbert, who is to be responsible for the major projects at home EM 2022 and World Cup 2023 in Japan, the Philippines and Indonesia in German basketball, had only a few top players available. All seven NBA professionals are not there, the players from master Alba Berlin and cup winners Bayern Munich played in the Euroleague on the same evening. “Of course it’s not easy,” said Vice President Armin Andres. But there are no excuses. “The World Cup is a very important event, a must, so to speak.” The announcement makes it clear how difficult it is to lose at home against the supposedly weakest group opponent at the start.
Even the start did not go according to plan. In a very short time, the German team fell 6-0 down. The team, led by the young player Justus Hollatz, suffered a lot of slight ball losses, several step errors were symbolic of the messed up initial phase. The veteran Benzing, who contributed eight quick points, was important. After a threesome in the first quarter, the 32-year-old stuck his tongue out demonstratively, he kept pulling the young team with him.
“You can tell they want and the fighting spirit is there. You want to make a difference, but you don’t have the interaction yet. That’s why it’s still a bit bumpy, ”Andres stated at Magenta Sport. It was a national team that had to find itself completely new without the absence of almost all top performers. This was achieved for the first time in the newly built Nuremberg Arena shortly before half-time, when Hollatz contributed four quick points. Germany stood out a little.
But after the change it didn’t get any easier. Karim Jallow set the first exclamation point with an unpolluted dunk, but Estonia simply did not want to let up. The opponent, who had lost to Germany 43:86 in 2018, scored three-by-three this time and temporarily pulled away by six points in the third quarter. National coach Herbert seemed at a loss on the sidelines. In the final quarter, a gripping duel developed with several changes in leadership. In the end, the Estonians stayed cool and prevailed at the last minute.