After sitting out the past four games due to an ankle sprain, Franz Wagner FIBA World Cup made a remarkable comeback, contributing 16 points, eight rebounds, and three assists from the bench. In an exhilarating match, Germany secured an 81-79 win against Latvia during the 2023 FIBA World Cup quarterfinals held in Manila, Philippines.
Standing at 6 feet 10 inches and weighing 220 pounds, the Orlando Magic forward displayed little rust despite a slight left ankle injury during Germany’s initial tournament game against Japan. He delivered a solid performance, shooting 5-of-8 from the field, including 2-of-4 from beyond the arc. When Wagner was on the court, the German team outscored their Latvian counterparts by a significant 19 points.
Franz Wagner FIBA World Cup rejoined the starting lineup at the beginning of the second half, having initially entered the game with just over five minutes left in the opening quarter when Germany was trailing 10-3. His first made basket was an impressive step-back 3-pointer with only 50 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
Germany’s head coach, Gordie Herbert, praised Wagner’s impact, stating, “I thought Franz really picked us up in the second group, I can’t say enough about our bench tonight. That’s the third or fourth game in a row.”
With Wagner back on the court, the German team embarked on a dominant 14-1 run in the second half, establishing a comfortable double-digit lead early in the fourth quarter. However, Latvia mounted a spirited comeback. In the closing seconds, Davis Bertans, recently traded from the Dallas Mavericks to the Oklahoma City Thunder, missed a potentially game-winning 3-pointer for Latvia.
Franz’s older brother, Moe Wagner, who re-signed with the Orlando Magic during the offseason, also delivered a strong performance for Germany, contributing 12 points on a perfect 3-of-3 shooting from the field. Half of his points came during the crucial 14-1 second-half run.
German point guard Dennis Schroder, one of the tournament’s standout performers leading up to this game, struggled, making only four of his 26 shot attempts and finishing with nine points. Meanwhile, Arturs Zagars led Latvia with an impressive 24 points, and Bertans added 20 points to their tally.
With Franz Wagner FIBA World Cup return the Wagner brothers will face their Magic teammate, Paolo Banchero, when Germany takes on the USA in the semifinals on Friday. This marks Germany’s second-ever appearance in a FIBA World Cup semifinal, with their previous one dating back to 2002 when they secured the bronze, led by Dirk Nowitzki. In that tournament, FR Yugoslavia, comprised of players from both Serbia and Montenegro, clinched the gold by defeating Argentina in the final, while Germany defeated New Zealand in the third-place match.