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Germany end Latvia’s Basketball World Cup run to reach semis, will face five-time champions US

MANILA – Germany coach Gordon Herbert believes that there is still a lot of room for improvement for his side, after a tough Basketball World Cup battle with Latvia at the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila on Wednesday.

The Germans, bronze medallists in 2002, ended the debutants’ dream run at the global showpiece with a nervy 81-79 win to squeeze into the semi-finals and a clash with the United States.

Latvia had already beaten defending champions Spain and Tokyo Olympics silver-medallists France on their way to the quarter-finals. But unbeaten Germany stopped them in their tracks with a hard-fought win and will now take on the world No. 2 Americans on Friday.

“I give Latvia a lot of credit, we won but it wasn’t pretty. But I think one of the strengths of this group is that we are a team, our bench for the last three or four games has been outstanding,” said Herbert.

However, he was less pleased about his side’s overall performance, particularly in attack.

“Offensively we had only about 10 assists (Latvia has 19), I would say that’s the biggest thing we have to improve on,” the coach added.

Latvia started off where they left off in this tournament by jumping out to a 10-point lead after only five minutes, but Germany pegged them back and led by two at half-time.

The lead repeatedly changed hands throughout the game but, eventually, Herbert’s men began to press their advantage and they just about held on.

Franz Wagner was Germany’s top scorer with 16 points, followed by Andreas Obst (13) and Moritz Wagner (12), Franz’s older brother.

“It was close the whole time. We executed our game plan mediocrely. In the end, it was the will that decided. The fact that we fought like that as a team made the difference,” said the younger Wagner.

Playmaker Dennis Schroder had a day to forget, scoring only four of his 26 field-goal attempts.

“I have no doubt he will bounce back, he obviously had a really tough day, (missing) lay-ups, wide-open shots… but he’s a super tough kid, very competitive,” added Herbert.

Arturs Zagars was Latvia’s top scorer with 24 points, followed by Davis Bertans with 20, which included six three-pointers.

Latvia’s loss eliminated them from the race for one of the two Paris 2024 Olympic berths available for European teams.

In the day’s second last-eight match-up, 15th-ranked Canada pulled away midway through the third quarter to beat Slovenia 100-89 and will face 2014 runners-up Serbia in the semi-finals.

The Canadians ended Luka Doncic’s World Cup dream, overcoming a 26-point effort from the Dallas Mavericks superstar to reach the final four for the first time. He was ejected in the fourth quarter for picking up his second technical foul.

The result also meant Serbia and Germany qualified for the Olympics. AFP

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