Basketball idol Dirk Nowitzki has high hopes for the German national team in the coming years after its bronze medal at the European Championships at home. “The top performers are still young. I think the future is bright for German basketball,” Nowitzki told MagentaSport after captain Dennis Schröder and co. won the European bronze medal match against Poland 82-69 (36-23) in Berlin on Sunday.

Schröder, who once again shone with 26 points, affirmed that he would continue to follow the call of the national team in the future. “The team chemistry is enormous. I will stay here until I can’t walk anymore,” said the NBA pro of the Los Angeles Lakers and added: “I think we have made German basketball a bit sexier again. The trend is going in the right direction.”

Meanwhile, Nowitzki and Schröder saw NBA shooting star Franz Wagner as one of the upcoming defining minds. “He will help lead the national team. He’s an incredible personality,” Schröder said. Nowitzki hopes Wagner has “a long, long career ahead of him internationally”. At just 21 years old, the Orlando Magic pro played a strong European Championship, averaging 15.2 points.

National coach Gordon Herbert also sees the team, which is as good as qualified for the 2023 World Cup in Japan, Indonesia, and the Philippines, as far from having reached the end of its development. “When I spoke to the boys in August, they committed to three years to build something,” Herbert said. Every successful national team, he said, has built its own identity over a period of time. “We are just starting to do that,” said the Canadian.

With the third European Championship medal after gold in 1993 and silver in 2005, the team has also tasted blood, and the semi-final exit against Spain and the missed title chance should be an incentive. “We have this hunger. The disappointment that it wasn’t enough for the final is in us,” said co-captain Johannes Voigtmann: “That’s a good signal because everyone had such an expectation that we would go to the final. We have to keep that – that will to win.”