Four days ago things were different in the German camp.
Having by far one of the most skilled generations in the history of the country's basketball tradition, the expectations back home were very high coming to the OMNITEL U18 European Championship.
|Patrick Heckmann is very athletic and knows how to finish in traffic|
Yet after 3 days the team of coach Kay Blümel find themselves in an unexpected situation - at the bottom of Group D, fighting against relegation in the upcoming Classification Round.
One sunshine in the German display was Patrick Heckmann, who showed some of the reasons his team was expected to do more here.
In the first game he scored 20 points, and after a slow night yesterday against Croatia, made a big step up in the key game and led his team with 27 points.
Each of his 12 made field goals was drawing more and more attention from the fans, who enjoyed to watch an athletic, creative and very energetic tall guard.
"There were high hopes on us back home, especially after the good result we made earlier this year," refers Heckmann to the 2nd spot in the prestigious Albert Schweitzer Tournament held in April.
"Our goal was to make it to the next stage and there try to fight for the top spots, but then we were drawn to a very tough group with Serbia, Croatia and Greece and one team had to be eliminated early.
"We didn't manage to play like we wanted to, and now everyone is with their head down," he shares.
In stead of a possible fight for a medal, now Germany needs to make sure they won't slip to Division B.
"We are still confident in our ability," says Heckmann.
"All we need to do is play with the same intensity we did against Serbia and I believe we can win each of the next 6 games."
The 1.98m guard already played with Germany in the U16 European Championship in 2008 but his role was limited and the stage was Division B.
"All of this is very exciting for me," admits the talent.
"I was looking forward to play in a European Championship, and to come here and play in such a big arena on such big stage made me think before the tournament how well I could do here."
His worries were unnecessary, as it appears here.
The hard nosed play, along with natural talent, smart game and various ways of finishing around the rim, differ him from most of the players in Vilnius.
Heckmann knows where it came from.
"I think the change in my game came when I went to the USA on a students exchange program," he remembers.
"It was a great and very enjoyable experience for me, as I had good coaching over there, and that's where I learned to attack the rim this way."
Heckmann is back in Germany and still needs to finish his school but his plans are to return to the USA and play college basketball.
"It's very important for me not only to play basketball but also to study and get a degree," he reveals a side not many players share.
The Germans pray things will start to connect before it's too late, but as long as Heckmann keeps his performance up their hope to survive in Division A will be easier to fulfill.