MUNICH (FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup) - Germany may be making their first appearance at the FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup since 1987 but Nelson Weidemann and his compatriots want to win the title - hopefully with a dose of revenge against Lithuania along the way.
"Our goal is always the same and we enter the tournament wanting to win the tournament," said the German point guard ahead of the July 1-9 event.
The Germans finished fourth at the FIBA U18 European Championship 2016 to qualify for the biennial tournament. At the time in Samsun, Weidemann and his teammates were disappointed about missing out on reaching the first U18 continental podium in history. But looking back, he sees the achievement for what it is.
"I can’t describe the feeling. We are like a family out there even though we don’t see each other that often. I really love these guys and we all love each other. That’s why we are so proud that we accomplished this goal and that we can see each other one more year.”
Weidemann did admit however that there will be a sense of revenge on Germany’s mind when they play in Group B, where they will be pitted against Lithuania, Puerto Rico and hosts Egypt.
The game against the fellow Europeans will be especially significant since Lithuania knocked off Germany 69-62 in the U18 continental Semi-Finals. Germany ended up losing to Italy in the third-place game as well to finish fourth.
"It's possible to finish first in this group and we are all happy that we can get a chance of revenge against Lithuania. The other teams are quite good but we don’t know much about them. Our first target will be to beat Lithuania," Weidemann said.
There are some questions about Germany’s roster for Cairo, especially if stars like Kostja Mushidi and Isaiah Hartenstein declare for the 2017 NBA Draft and are unable to play. But Weidemann doesn’t see an issue if that happens.
"It's not a problem. We have shown that we can win big tournaments without one of our biggest talents - winning the (2016) Albert Schweitzer Tournament without Hartenstein. It’s a great opportunity for other guys to step up. It’s still a team. It’s not just one person. If we fight together and stay together everything is possible," said Weidemann, who was on the German team that won the AST title last spring.
Weidemann helping Germany reach Cairo 2017 also was a bit of making amends after he was on a talented 1999 generation German side which finished seventh at the FIBA U16 European Championship 2015 - missing out on the FIBA U17 Basketball World Cup.
"It's possible to finish first in this group and we are all happy that we can get a chance of revenge against Lithuania. The other teams are quite good but we don’t know much about them. Our first target will be to beat Lithuania." - Weidemann
"The U16s was a bit of bad luck because we played against the best team in all of Europe, champions Bosnia and Herzegovina in the Quarter-Finals. If we could have played against another team like maybe Finland or Spain or even Lithuania I think we could have beaten them. Then we would have gone to the FIBA U17 Basketball World Cup last summer. It was really just bad luck," Weidemann said.
But the guard used the disappointing showing in a positive manner last year.
"It was not depressing but more motivating that we can at least play at the FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup," said Weidemann, who was one of three 1999-born players on the U18 team in Samsun and now have a chance to play at a youth World Cup - and get a bit of revenge.