MANILA – Germany stunned the fancied United States 113-111 in a high-octane knockout match on Friday to book their ticket for Sunday’s Basketball World Cup final against fellow European powerhouses Serbia.
Guard Andreas Obst carried the Germans, who have four National Basketball Association (NBA) players in their roster, with 24 points and six assists, including a clutch three-pointer. Franz Wagner added 22 points, while Daniel Theis, who plays for the Indiana Pacers, contributed 21 points.
The result at the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila means the Americans will miss the final for the second straight tournament, after finishing seventh in 2019.
Germany coach Gordon Herbert was pleased with his team, saying: “It’s a special group, this group of players want to win gold. The way we played, we played together, we stuck together at different times when things got tough.
“One more to go, we’ll enjoy this a little bit tonight and when we wake up, we get ready for Sunday.”
The Germans took advantage of the Americans’ slow start to take a 25-15 lead off a Dennis Schroder three-pointer with 4min 30sec to go in the first quarter.
Team USA, composed of NBA players, recovered and engaged in a tit-for-tat with their opponents to take a slim 60-59 lead at the break. It was the highest-scoring first half in a Fiba World Cup semi-final.
Germany then controlled the third quarter, taking the lead to end the period at 94-84 via Schroder’s pull-up two-pointer. At the start of the final quarter, Wagner’s lay-up with nine minutes to go padded the advantage to as much as 12 points.
The Europeans kept their discipline to see out the win and reach their first World Cup final despite the Americans – led by Minnesota Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards’ 23 points – pushing hard and cutting the deficit to just two.
“Congrats to Germany, they were fantastic and they deserved the win,” said United States coach Steve Kerr, whose men will face Canada for third place on Sunday.
“I’m really proud of our guys, they were courageous throughout the game and fought and gave themselves a chance down the stretch. We just couldn’t quite get there in the end.”
Germany will be looking forward to the title-decider on Sunday against Serbia, who defeated the Canadians 95-86 by imposing their will in the paint and controlling the boards in the earlier semi-final.
Five Serbian players scored in double-digits, led by Atlanta Hawks guard Bogdan Bogdanovic with 23 points, four rebounds and three assists.
The Balkan nation’s stifling defence forced Canada into turnovers, and limited their North American counterparts to 15 points in the first quarter. The Serbs entered the break with a 52-39 advantage and never relinquished the lead.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Canada’s leading scorer, passer, and rebounder, was held scoreless in the first 15 minutes amid tight coverage and foul trouble. He finished with 15 points, two rebounds, and nine assists, far below his tournament average of 25 points per game.
Serbia’s Marko Guduric, who had 12 points, said the team are now ready to play “the biggest game of our lives”.
“To represent our country and this jersey, for ourselves and our families and all the people in Serbia, it’s a great honour and we cannot wait for the final game,” he said. REUTERS, AFP
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