ATHENS (FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament for Men) – Chris Kaman enjoyed a winning debut as Germany beat Cape Verde 104-68 to clinch a place in the quarter-finals of the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
Kaman, the American center of the Los Angeles Clippers who only got his German passport at the beginning of this month, started and had 10 points and 10 rebounds in 20 minutes.
“This is new for me,” Kaman said to FIBA.Com immediately after the game.
“I had a little nerves going into it and I’m glad to get it out of the way. The rust was out there.
“I was missing some easy looks. I was fumbling the ball. The ball was different. When the ball gets wet in the NBA, it sticks to your hands better. Here, it gets more slippery.”
Germany now have two bona fide stars in Dirk Nowitzki and Kaman, though the biggest strength of the team is probably the familiarity that most of the players have with each other, and Dirk Bauermann’s system.
Nowitzki had a game-high 16 to lead a balanced German attack in their first game in Athens.
Because New Zealand won their game against Cape Verde on Monday, they also sealed a quarter-final spot with this outcome.
First place will be decided on Wednesday when the Tall Blacks take on the Germans.
The 2.13m Kaman, whose great grandparents were German, wasn’t able to play in the build-up to the qualifying event in Greece.
Insurance issues also had to be settled and he only received the all-clear to take part on Friday night after Germany’s victory over Canada in Mannheim.
Kaman says communicating with his new teammates hasn’t been a problem.
“The cool thing about Germany is their second language is English,” he said.
“All the guys speak English. The problem is I don’t speak any German, a few words here and there, but they go so fast. It’s not such a big deal.”
The experience has already been a refreshing one for Kaman.
“These guys have been playing together for 10 years now,” he said.
“They’re like best friends, but they’ve been very welcoming. It reminds me of college.
“I’m excited to be here.”
Wednesday’s game will be a stiffer test, just as Friday’s quarter-final will be when Germany take on Brazil or Greece.
“We’re trying to focus on the game tomorrow,” Kaman said. “New Zealand, they’re a good team.
“We don’t want to get too far ahead.”