MANILA – Germany won their first-ever Fiba Basketball World Cup title by beating undermanned Serbia 83-77 in a slugfest of the two European powerhouses on Sunday in Manila.
Germany leaned on a 22-10 surge in the third quarter, orchestrated by brothers Franz and Moritz Wagner, to build a cushion and never relinquished the lead as they won the World Cup’s first all-European final since 2006.
“We’re the champions of the world, we’re undefeated, we won every single game,” said Maodo Lo.
“We had a tough group to begin with, we were able to keep building, we had huge wins throughout the whole tournament and then we faced the United States in the semi-final.
“I think we deserved this world championship.”
Serbia remained upbeat despite the loss. “We made a great success,” said Serbia’s Aleksa Avramovic. “Our heads are already up. Our next goal is to go to the Olympics… and make a better success than this.”
The tournament Most Valuable Player (MVP) Dennis Schroder carried Germany with a game-high 28 points, way above his average of 17.9 points per game, and added two rebounds and two assists.
Germany became the first team to win a Fiba World Cup crown on their final debut since Spain in 2006.
Serbia absorbed another heartbreak after losing to the US 129-92 in the 2014 final in Madrid, though they finished better than their quarter-final exit in 2019.
The two teams, who boast strong teamwork and chemistry, traded baskets in the first half, entered the break at 47-47.
But Germany built up a 12-point lead late on in the third quarter and never looked back.
Marko Guduric converted two free throws, cutting Germany’s lead to two, 79-77, with 39.5 ticks to go in the final frame. A costly turnover and missed three-pointers prevented Serbia’s comeback.
Serbia’s starting guard Ognjen Dobric had to be carried off the floor with an ankle injury with 7min 40sec to go in the first quarter. Serbia also played without power forward Borisa Simanic, who underwent surgery in Manila to remove a kidney after taking a blow to his mid-section against South Sudan in a preliminary game.
They were also without superstar Nikola Jokic, who skipped the tournament to rest after leading the Denver Nuggets to the National Basketball Association (NBA) title last season.
“They deserved this win,” said Serbia head coach Svetislav Pesic. “They played 40 minutes at a high level, with continuity, very physical.
“If one team like Germany won all the games from the start until the end, we must everybody say bravo.”
Earlier, Canada bagged their first World Cup podium finish at the expense of the short-handed US 127-118 in overtime in a riveting, record-setting third-place play-off.
Hot-shooting Dillon Brooks, who will play for the Houston Rockets next season, powered the Canadians with his tournament-high 39 points, hitting seven of eight three-pointers, along with four rebounds and five assists. It was the most points scored by a player in a medal-winning game in tournament history.
Brooks earned MVP chants from the crowd with his all-time performance, a far cry from the loud boos in Canada’s previous games.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Canada’s leading scorer, rebounder and passer, finished with 31 points, six rebounds and 12 assists. “It was fun trying to take what the defence gives me,” he said.
“He kills everybody in the league. He’s one day probably going to be in the race for MVP,” American guard Austin Reaves said. “You’ve got to give him his flowers.”
Team USA’s NBA Rookie of the Year Paolo Banchero, Defensive Player of the Year Jaren Jackson Jr and forward Brandon Ingram were sidelined due to illness.
The side’s leading scorer, Anthony Edwards of the Minnesota Timberwolves, recorded 24 points, five rebounds and three assists.
Canada capitalised on a characteristically lethargic start from the Americans to take a 34-25 lead in the first quarter, before their opponents fought back.
Canada’s Kelly Olynyk missed a potential game-winning three at the buzzer, ending the fourth quarter at 111-111.
The Americans recorded the most points they have conceded in a World Cup game.
Canada achieved multiple milestones in the tournament, including their semi-final debut, while qualifying for the Olympics for the first time since 2000.
Despite the defeat, the Americans finished better than their seventh spot in 2019, their worst-ever major international tournament result. The US have won the tournament a record five times.
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