By David Hein
A perfect mixture of Serbian philosophy and German hard work brought Germany their one and only EuroBasket championship to date - a 71-70 victory over Russia in 1993.
Christian Welp collected a pass from Kai Nurnberger and dunked to tie the game 70-70 in the final in Munich. Welp was fouled on the play and converted the free throw with three seconds left to give Germany the crown - their only medal in European history.
"The key to the 1993 title was the Serbian philopshy to approach the game as well as the incredible defense and efforts from the players of the German team," said FIBA Communcations Head Florian Wanninger, who was under the basket when Welp dunked.
That Serbian philosophy came from Germany's head coach Svetislav Pesic, who also coached at the 1987 Junior World Championships what many consider the best youth team of all time with the likes of Vlade Divac, Toni Kukoc, Dino Radja and Sasha Djordjevic.
|Henrik Roedl was a key member of that 1993 German side|
At that tournament, Pesic saw the main components of Germany's 1993 side - Henning Harnisch, Nurnberger and Henrik Roedl.
Before the 1993 EuroBasket, a German basketball magazine wrote that the team should be happy with fifth place. After that Pesic told a news conference, "No no, no. We want to finish first."
"Pesic is a guy who expects a 150 per cent effort," Wanninger said. "He doesn't accept players who aren't focused."
Wanninger remembered a moment after Germany lost their first game of the 1993 tournament against Latvia in Berlin: "I was in my office. It was 50 meters from the locker room. And I could hear the screaming through the closed doors."
"He brought a different mentality to Germany- the importance of work ethics. Talent isn't enough. But you can compensate for talent with hard work."
And Wanninger said the German virtue of hard work eased Pesic's efforts.
"German teams are tournament teams which have the ability to find their rhythm. And they're known as having big hearts and being big fighters," Wanniger said.
And Germany bought into Pesic's philosophy of the collective being more important than the individual with stars like Harnisch playing in a rotation system.
Still, the 1993 title came out of nowhere - perhaps more than the 2005 German push to the final.
"From where the team came from, I would say Munich was bigger," Wanninger said in comparing the two teams. "They were really the underdogs. (The 2005 German coach Dirk) Bauermann kind of underplays this role that they're underdogs. They have a lot of experience compared to the 1993 team."
He added: "Just like in Belgrade, the 1993 championship team included a player who nobody counted on in Kai Nurnberger. Henning, Harnisch and Roedl were the stars. Nobody really knew about him back then. Kind of like Pascal Roller on this team."
Wanninger concluded: "German basketball came out of nowhere with a fantastic coach, who was responsible for the position that German baskeball is in right now."