Get ready, Manila: Germany has everything to win FIBA World Cup gold

Edvinas Jablonskis
Daily Editor
2023-09-04 13:00

Germany maintained its perfect record in the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023, once again proving that it has all the tools to win the competition.

Credit: AFP-Scanpix
Credit AFP-Scanpix

Once again, Germany showed that this is a team not to joke with in this FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023.

The Germans climbed out of arguably the most difficult group in the competition without a single loss while playing without Franz Wagner in all but one game. On top of that, it seemed that the Germans didn't break too much sweat, with the Australia game being the lone exception.

It looked like Germany finally found a worthy opponent on Sunday while trailing 11-25 against Slovenia.

Player of the Game
Dennis  Schroder
Dennis Schroder
Points 24
Accuracy 8-11
Rebounds 2
Assists 10

Contrary to Australia, the Germans decided to use a man-on-man defense on Slovenia's star, Luka Doncic, and in the beginning, Doncic was doing what he wanted.

In the first possession, Doncic got a matchup against Dennis Schroder and easily posted up against him. Moments later, he did the same with his prime defender, Isaac Bonga. He also made his signature step-back 3-pointer over Mo Wagner, with Daniel Theis being the only German player who successfully contested a couple of Doncic's shots.

So, Luka finished the 1st quarter with 12 points on a 5-of-9 shooting from the field, and Slovenia held a commanding lead.

Schroder, Theis, and head coach Gordon Herbert were also involved in a heated timeout, as the coach told Schroder to sit down, but the Toronto Raptors guard refused to listen to him.

"I mean, basketball is an emotional sport," Schroder told BasketNews about the incident. "It's a game of runs, and you gotta stay cool. Me and Daniel go way back, I have known him since I was 12 or 13. We had those kinds of moments when we were young as well, but it always helped us to elevate our game."

It did help to elevate Germany's game on Sunday as well. Herbert's squad responded by winning the 2nd quarter 27-9 and headed into halftime with a 38-34 lead.

On top of that, Doncic scored only 2 points in 8 minutes, as his field goals went down to 6-of-14, including 1-of-7 from the 3-pointers. However, it must be also noted that Doncic was visibly limping and grimacing his face from pain, opting for more 3-pointers instead of continuing driving to the basket and playing in the post.

After halftime, Germany made another run and basically put the game to bed, claiming 1st place in Group K.

"We had a really tough start," Bonga told BasketNews after the game. "I think at the beginning, we gave a little bit too much respect. We came to ourselves, we fixed the problems, and we went back to our game."

Meanwhile, after a very strong start, Bonga's main defensive assignment, Doncic, finished the game with 23 points (7/11 2PT, 2/11 3PT, 3/5 FT), 6 rebounds, 6 assists, and 19 EFF.

"We all know how good Luka Doncic is," Bonga admitted. "At the end of the day, I take every challenge. In the second half, I took a different approach, I didn't care who was in front of me. I think as a team, we also did a better job in the second half."

Probably one of the most dangerous things in this German team is the fact that any of the players can become X-factors at any point of the game.

One game, you have Maodo Lo sinking four 3-pointers in a quarter, Johannes Thiemann, Niels Giffey, or Theis scoring in double-digits out of nowhere. And there's no surprise in that. We are talking about the EuroLeague and NBA-level players. That's how stacked Germany is.

In the last game against Slovenia, Andreas Obst sank two 3-pointers in a row, initiating a crucial run in 2nd quarter. When Slovenia tried to come back into a game, cutting the deficit to 12 points, Mo Wagner scored 8 points in a row to put Germany back in control.

"Take what they give you," Wagner talked about his stretch. "We all worked really hard, so I think we have encouragement to trust in our shot and ability. Obviously, it's a lot more fun when they go in."

And, of course, there's that Franz Wagner piece in this team. The 22-year-old injured his left ankle in the opening game against Japan (August 25) and hasn't played since.

While no one's questioning his ability, one dilemma arises. Seeing how well Germany is doing without him and knowing how long he hasn't played, will Wagner be ready to step in and immediately catch his rhythm and gel with the rest of the team?

"Obviously, if he comes back, I think Franz is good enough to adjust to the team," Bonga believes. "The good thing is that we are playing for a long time together. I think right now, we take every day step-by-step."

Franz's brother Mo didn't make any predictions but assured that no one's putting pressure on the Orlando Magic youngster.

"We shall see. We don't have any expectations. I'll be excited for him because it's a lot of fun, and I'll be excited for us because he's really good," Mo Wagner told BasketNews. "But there's no pressure, there's no expectation."

"He knows what he's doing, he's a grown man. Obviously, I'd love to play with him because he's my brother, and he's really f****** good," Mo Wagner added.

So, the key question remains. Will Franz Wagner be ready for the playoffs? Head coach Gordon Herbert provided a short but rather positive update.

"We'll have to see what his situation is on Tuesday. He worked out, he looks pretty good, but you never know [when you're] coming back from the injury," Herbert said in the press conference.

Regardless, Germany remains only one of the two undefeated teams in the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 while facing solid teams on their way. If the win against Australia was a statement, the latest victory against Slovenia was a testament that Germany is the main contender to win the whole thing.

And it looks like they have everything for it: a great head coach in Gordon Herbert, a clear leader who doesn't shy the responsibility in Dennis Schroder, numerous role players that could decide the game, and a World Cup First Team level talent, Franz Wagner on the reserves.

So, get ready, Manila.


We want to hear from you. Be the first to comment!

Add comment

  Subscribe   Total comments: 0

We have the right to remove comments which are offensive, contains abusive language, or violates other rules of the website