When Maurice Pluskota had himself photographed with some teammates wearing a mouth guard against the Mers virus before the Universiade in South Korea, the Lions basketball player had no idea that a "plague" would actually strike him down.
"There was a nasty atmosphere after the game. Everyone was so sad and dejected."
Maurice Pluskota on the moments after losing the Universiade final.
Fortunately, it was not a nasty virus, but only a summer flu that the A-2 national player had caught. But the man from Braunschweig was not able to play as energetically as planned in the biggest success of a German Universiade team so far, the silver medal win in Gwangju.
"It was a great pity, of course," he said. "But it was a huge event that we handled very well with a great spirit in the team." He also did what he could from the outside, for success, water handed, cheered on "and never pushed bad moods."
Already in the preparation Pluskota had to pass the last test matches in Switzerland with a cold. "I thought I was fit again, but then the air conditioning knocked me out again on the plane to Korea," reports the 23-year-old.
With a fever of 40 degrees and completely exhausted, he arrived in the athletes' village of the Student World Games. His roommate Maodo Lo had to flee the double room for the time being because of the risk of infection and moved with his mattress into the living room of the players' apartment.
Pluskota was out of action for the first two preliminary matches and the following day off. Against the hosts, he finally got to step up, but didn't produce much yet, as he admitted. In the self runner against the harmless troop from Mozambique national coach Henrik Rodl gave him then the chance. The man from Braunschweig could show in 30 minutes what he can do and dominated under the baskets.
But in the quarterfinals, Rodl once again relied on the formation that had meanwhile settled in without Pluskota. "It went well without me, and the coach did not want to destroy the confidence of the others," says the Lowen center understandingly.
It was a similar story in the semifinals, where he made only a brief appearance. But in the final thriller against the USA his time had come. The German team got off to a weak start with 3:16 points. Then Pluskota came, immediately produced basket danger and contributed decisively to the turnaround in the game.
The fact that the team had to bow out in the end after two overtime periods is something that the man from Braunschweig, like his teammates, still hasn't really digested to this day. "I was already pretty sure that we would win gold," he admits.
Finally, the DBB selection had led shortly before the end. "But that's the way the sport is, whoever makes the mistakes in the end loses," Pluskota summed up, consoling himself: "After all, we also made history with silver and achieved something as we had set out to do." For him it is the second big international medal after silver at the Albert Schweitzer tournament, the unofficial U-18 world championship.
At the grand closing ceremony of the World Games in the stadium, the basketball players were able to enjoy the spectacle with music, dance and light show in front of tens of thousands of spectators the very next day.
In general, the impressions of the Universiade will remain in Pluskota's memory. For the first time, he attended a multisport event, watched track and field and judo competitions with colleagues, and was thrilled: "That was very cool, I had never seen that before."