FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Fans cheered Germany’s basketball team on its return home Tuesday after winning the World Cup for the first time.
The team, led by tournament MVP Dennis Schröder of the Toronto Raptors, went direct from a long-haul flight from the Philippines to an event Tuesday morning at a sponsor’s headquarters in Frankfurt. A group of fans, including many children, and German politicians gathered to greet the champions.
“I hope that we can get a lot of children and older people, move them to play basketball,” Schröder told the crowd as “We Are The Champions” played.
In a country where soccer is the most popular sport, Germany’s World Cup campaign initially attracted little attention until the 113-111 upset win over the United States in the semifinals on Thursday.
That unexpected victory brought momentum at home ahead of beating Serbia 83-77 in the final on Sunday. Even then, though, the team’s historic success had to compete for attention with the firing of the men’s national soccer team coach, which was announced in the final minutes of the gold-medal game.
The next step for Germany is next year’s Paris Olympics.
“This group of guys are the best 12 players, the best team, Germany’s ever seen,” coach Gordie Herbert said, “and they’re even better people.”