By Dimitris Kontos
|Heiko Schaffartzik was promoted to be the captain of Germany in the EuroBasket 2013 Qualification Round|
A stereotypical trait that the rest of Europeans often attribute to Germans is that they're straight talkers and practical thinkers.
A standard view of what makes a good point guard involves keeping a cool head in the heat of battle, leading the team and functioning as an extension of the coach on the court.
In those respects, Heiko Schaffartzik is an excellent point guard and as German as they come.
Germany secured a place at EuroBasket 2013 in impressive fashion last summer, playing attractive basketball and winning Qualification Round Group B undefeated.
Schaffartzik, of course, can accurately pinpoint the two main reasons behind this success.
"For one, I think the players made a big development during last season, I mean if you look at Tibor Pleiss he was really good with Bamberg, that's the reason he's now at Caja Laboral of course, also other players like Maik Zirbes played great," the 28-year-old playmaker explains.
"So it has a lot to do with the players, and with Svetislav Pesic.
"He's a coach who demands a lot of you, we played so aggressively on both offence and defence that I think at that level, in that group, it was hard for the other teams to stay with us.
The playmaker was called upon by Germany head coach Svetislav Pesic to be one of the leaders of the national team in the post-Nowitzki era and he relished the role.
Schaffartzik averaged 12.0 points and led the team in assists with 4.3 per game.
"I love to take responsibility and I am really grateful to coach Pesic for giving me the role of captain, leader, creating for the others, creating for myself and playing aggressive defence," he says.
"These are all the things that I like to do and I'm good at, and he's just letting me do them, so last summer was a lot of fun for me, let me tell you."
It sounds like Germany have found the winning recipe for EuroBasket 2013 and beyond.
"The coach is the one who decides the style of play of course, but I think once you're successful with something you should stay with it."
Only some ingredients might not be in place to keep it going.
"So far the coaching situation is not clear," Schaffartzik says.
"Pesic has not re-signed, he says he wants to take his time and we all completely understand, of course we would all love for him to be our coach again but it's not up to us."
COMMITMENT AND OPTIMISM
Either Pesic continues at the helm or not, Schaffartzik's attitude towards the national team will not change.
A native of Berlin, he returned to his hometown club Alba in the 2010/11 season after playing for several other clubs during his career.
After five games, he is averaging 11.4 points and 3.6 assists in the BEKO Bundesliga and 9 points and 3.4 assists in the Turkish Airlines Euroleague.
There are certain things however that no club, not even Alba, can provide him with.
"Sometimes in club basketball guys might look at their stats, their shots, but I've never had this feeling on the national team," he admits.
|Maik Zirbes is one of the young guns that make Schaffartik optimistic for Germany's future|
"(On the national team) everybody is there for the group, let's say if there are two shooting guards, one makes 30 points the other does not play so much, he would still say 'bravo' at the end.
"Of course everyone still practices hard and wants to play but you don't have this in club basketball, that's what makes playing for the national team so special and makes me look forward to it."
On top of this team ethos, Germany have another important thing going for them when they look at the future. Talent.
Schaffartzik, much like an older brother who knows the ways of the world, is protective and proud of the youngsters while simultaneously demanding of them.
"We will see how they develop but right now they are all '88, '89 (-born), they are not so young any more, in my opinion.
"I mean they're 24, 23 (years old) and the time is over when you're just a talent.
"But I also saw this summer how they have developed, also the younger guys born in 1990, how they are playing a more and more important role at their clubs, so you know, I'm optimistic about Germany's future."