After the Second World War, only one German national basketball team existed. At the Eurobasket 1953, a unified German team competed with four East German players and finished 14th. At the Eurobasket 1959 in Istanbul, unlike its counterpart from West Germany, the East German national team qualified for the Eurobasket but only finished 14th out of 17.
The first match between East and West Germany was played in 1960 at the qualification to the Summer Olympics. Despite the lack of popularity of basketball in East Germany, it took the West German basketball team until 1973 to earn its first victory over the East Germans who displayed disciplined playing styles.
At the Eurobasket 1961 in Belgrade, East Germany finished 12th out of 19, 4 spots better than West Germany.
Overall, the national basketball team of East Germany had its biggest success at the Eurobasket 1963 in Wrocław. After four victories and three losses in the preliminary round, East Germany went as the third seed (behind the tournament winner Soviet Union and silver medalist Poland) in Group B. Since only the first two places advanced to the semi-finals, East Germany had to play against Belgium and Bulgaria in the play-offs. After beating Belgium 81:35, East Germany lost 62:77 against Bulgaria. According to many experts, East Germany was one of the biggest surprises of the tournament.
At the Eurobasket 1965 in Moscow/Tbilisi, the East German team could not repeat its impressive performance two years earlier. However, it outperformed its West German competitors by 4 spots and finished 10th out of 16. At its last appearance at a Eurobasket 1967 in Helsinki/Tampere, East Germany finished 14th out of 16. West Germany did not qualify for the tournament. Despite some solid performances at European basketball competitions, East Germany's national basketball team never qualified for the world championships or the Summer Olympics.
In 1969 the Socialist Unity Party of Germany decided to focus its support primarily towards those sports that were most likely to win medals and earn points at international competitions. Since basketball is a team sport where, in contrast to individual sports, the whole team can only win a single Olympic medal, it lost considerable government support. Eventually, the SED banned its basketball players from traveling to non-socialist countries and immensely limited the sponsorship and promotion of talents. Soon, this meant the end of East German international basketball success, which ceded completely after 1973.