The Wagner Brothers Propel Germany to Semis, While Bertans Misses Historic Opportunity
Dennis Schroder’s shooting struggles were overshadowed by his teammates’ clutch performance as Germany halted Latvia’s impressive run at the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023, securing their spot in the Semi-Finals with a hard-fought 81-79 victory in Manila.
The game unfolded with seven ties and 15 lead changes, the last of which occurred in the third quarter before Germany managed to create some separation. Coach Gordie Herbert now readies his squad for the Semi-Finals clash against the United States, while Latvia heads to the Classification Games 5-8.
Key Moment: Latvia employed a larger Rodions Kurucs to defend Dennis Schroder, and Coach Luca Banchi’s strategy paid dividends as the superstar struggled, making only 4 of 26 shots. Schroder’s 22 missed attempts tied him with Kirk Penney for the dubious distinction of the most misses in the history of the World Cup. Penney had gone 7 for 29 in 2002 against Russia.
Schroder finally found his mark with his first two shots in the second half, igniting motivation among his teammates. Notably, the Wagner Brothers played a pivotal role. Franz, who had been sidelined for much of the World Cup due to injury, took over ball-handling duties at the start of the fourth quarter. This sparked an 8-0 run for Germany, highlighted by a powerful dunk from Moritz, extending their lead to 70-59 with eight minutes remaining.
Despite an 11-point deficit, Latvia remained undaunted. Arturs Zagars once again showcased his skills, amassing 24 points, including a series of acrobatic left-handed finishes in traffic, narrowing the score to 81-79 with just over 30 seconds left.
Germany entrusted Dennis Schroder with the final shot, but his floater missed. In a transition opportunity, Davis Bertans attempted the game-winning three-pointer, which rattled off the rim and went out of bounds as time expired.
Had Bertans’ shot found its mark, Latvia would have become the first team to reach the Semi-Finals in their debut since Croatia achieved this feat in 1994.
TCL Player of the Game: Franz Wagner made a resounding return to the lineup. Although he had played only 27 minutes against Japan to start the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023, Germany had managed to maintain their momentum without him. However, his return made a significant impact. Franz concluded the game with 16 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 assists coming off the bench.
Statistical Insights: Germany’s depth was truly impressive, with Coach Herbert relying on his second unit to provide a substantial scoring boost. In this game, the German bench outscored their counterparts 44-6. Coach Herbert acknowledged the significance of this stat, stating, “I thought our bench was outstanding for the third or fourth consecutive game.”
In Conclusion: Germany’s advancement to the Semi-Finals marks their first appearance at this stage in the World Cup since 2002. When considering their recent performance at FIBA EuroBasket 2022, this represents back-to-back appearances in the final four of major international events. It was a team effort, with Andreas Obst contributing 13 points, Moritz Wagner scoring 12, Johannes Thiemann reaching double figures with 10, and both Daniel Theis and Schroder finishing with 9 points each.
Latvia displayed remarkable determination, and Davis Bertans was instrumental, knocking down six three-pointers en route to a 20-point performance on the night.