The German basketball players pull off a huge surprise and reach the World Cup final for the first time. The outstanding young star Franz Wagner carries the team against the USA.
The German basketball players stormed into the historic first World Cup final with a spectacular victory over top favorites USA. The team led by captain Dennis Schröder defeated the Olympic champions in Manila with 113:111 (59:60) and is now playing against Serbia for the world championship title.
Led by the outstanding Franz Wagner (22 points) and an almost unstoppable Andreas Obst (24), Germany defied the NBA star ensemble in an impressive way. It was the national team’s biggest victory since the European Championship triumph in 1993. Center Daniel Theis (21 points) also made a significant contribution to the highlight of German basketball history.
Young star Wagner, Schröder (17 points) and their team can crown an entire generation on Sunday (2.40 p.m./Magentasport) in the huge Mall of Asia Arena. Even if they lose in the final against Serbia, Germany is already assured of a World Cup medal – exactly 21 years to the day after bronze in Indianapolis 2002, their only World Cup medal to date.
After the quarter-final exit in China four years ago, the US basketball players have to accept another serious setback on the World Cup stage and will only play for bronze on Sunday (10:30 a.m.) against the equally disappointed Canadians. For the top favorite, this is at best a consolation prize. The targeted sixth world championship title after 1954, 1986, 1994, 2010 and 2014 will have to wait at least until the tournament in Qatar in 2027.
Germany came into the eagerly awaited semi-finals with a flawless record of six wins. Even the USA (104:110 against Lithuania) had already lost a game. “This is the World Cup semi-finals. Enjoy the shit,” leader Schröder called out to his team immediately before the game. Unlike in previous games, Germany wanted to be wide awake from the start against the super athletes from the NBA. And that succeeded. The strong Theis made a remarkable block in the first minute, the USA seemed intimidated at times and subsequently took more throws from outside.
Two days after his poor performance against Latvia, Schröder acted much more cautiously and let the ball run through the German ranks. The 22-year-old Wagner, however, looked really fit again after his ankle injury and attacked non-stop. After a cracking dunk to make it 14:9, the winger showed off his muscles in front of 11,011 spectators, and the USA responded immediately with a timeout. Germany moved the ball a lot and got many high-percentage shots. 25 points in the first five minutes were evidence of the outstanding offensive, in which Franz Wagner was at times reminiscent of the young Dirk Nowitzki.
But the USA, which competed in Asia without superstars like Stephen Curry and LeBron James, also offered highlight after highlight on the offensive. The highly gifted wing duo Mikal Bridges and Anthony Edwards were in attack mode and scored at high percentages. Both stars already had 15 points at halftime. But they were initially unable to win the game over to the US side, nor was three-man specialist Austin Reaves, who was almost naturalized in Germany this summer. It was as exciting as the preparatory game in Abu Dhabi, when the Germans lost 91:99 after a 16-point lead in mid-August.
“The Americans are incredibly talented. We have to be very focused, but you can’t be afraid,” said Moritz Wagner before the game at Magentasport. There was no fear in the German team, especially his brother Franz. The German hopeful shot three-pointers, attacked the basket and repeatedly exchanged words with the referees. The duel between the two outstanding offensive teams continued after the break. Germany, led by the outstanding Obst, went into the final quarter with a ten-point lead – and showed no nerves there either.
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