Podgorica (dpa) – How Robin Benzeng means to the national team, he last showed up at the 2017 Basketball Championship. Although his wife Katarina was seriously pregnant, Binzeng stayed with the German team and missed the birth of his daughter Ainhua.
“The national team is important to me.” Benzeng said at that time in Tel Aviv after close consultation with his wife, “Of course childbirth is much more important, but we made the decision, and now we will.”
When you call Germany, Benzing is there – and that hasn’t changed since his debut in August 2009. “It always feels great to play for Germany,” said the striker shortly before the anniversary. “The feeling of community, just spending time with the kids and representing your country – that’s what defines the national team for me.”
Which is why it comes as no surprise that the 32-year-old Spanish Legion from CAI Zaragoza is also present this week when the last qualifying period for the 2022 European Championship to choose the German Basketball Federation in Podgorica comes. If everything goes according to plan, Binzeng will play his 150th international match against Montenegro on Monday. On Saturday, the duel with Great Britain in the program.
“This is more than just a number. It is a great honor to play for Germany so much.” Only eight German players have crossed the 150 mark ahead of him, including his national coach Henrik Ruddle (178) and former teammate of the national team Dirk Nowitzki (153). A little tense before the match, “a native of Hesse, who heads the national team as captain, admits.” As a kid it’s always been my dream. ”
In the past twelve years, Benzing has seen many ups and downs in wearing the Eagle Shirt. In his first European Championship in 2009 in Poland, the team led by coach Dirk Bormann surprisingly reached the middle round with many youngsters, and a year later, the first disappointment at the World Cup in Turkey followed with the preliminary round. Another year later, Benzing played alongside Nowitzki at the European Championships in Lithuania, but was unsuccessful in reaching the middle round with DBB selection.
“However, it was an indescribable feeling to play alongside Dirk. He just won the NBA title, and I was able to learn a lot from Dirk, ”says Benzeng. But players like Patrick Weimerling, Jan Jagla and Stephen Haman formed me too. I’m just grateful that I played with so many great players. ”
Meanwhile, Benzeng himself is the player the youngsters direct themselves to. “You can always count on Robin,” said coach Rödl of the veteran. “Robin is one of the best performers and an integral personality in the team,” said Ingo Weiss, president of the federation. “Robin is always there, no matter where. Even if he’s injured. He’s a very good man.”
And even if the next two matches aren’t about a lot because Germany qualifies as co-host for the EM 2022 tournament, there is no doubt that Benzing is there. “As long as the coach calls me, I will be there,” says Binzeng, who still misses one thing in his career: participating in the Olympics. “This is the goal for this summer, and it will be a dream,” he said at the World Cup Qualifiers exhibition in Croatia in June.
© dpa-infocom, dpa: 210218-99-490753 / 2