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MANILA, Philippines – Germany finally cracked the USA code.
The Germans beat the Americans for the first time in FIBA World Cup history and booked their maiden trip to the championship game after a rousing 113-111 victory at the Mall of Asia Arena on Friday, September 8.
Franz Wagner, Andreas Obst, and Daniel Theis submitted their finest performances of this World Cup as they scored at least 20 points each to help Germany arrange a final duel with Serbia on Sunday at the same venue.
For only the fifth time in World Cup history, it will be an all-European finale as Serbia dispatched a similarly star-studded Canada crew, 95-86, in the other knockout semifinal match.
Spain beat Greece in 2006 in the only other World Cup final between two European squads.
“It’s a special group,” said Germany coach Gordie Herbert. “The way we played – we played together, stuck together when things got tough, we had players who made huge plays.”
Prior to this edition, the only German player to score at least 20 points against the United States in a World Cup game was Dirk Nowitzki, when the Dallas Mavericks icon dropped 34 points on the Americans in 2002.
But in this game alone, Obst netted 24 points and 6 assists, Wagner finished with 22 points and 5 rebounds, while Theis churned out 21 points and 7 rebounds.
Dennis Schroder also delivered for Germany with 17 points, 9 assists, and 2 steals as he rediscovered his shooting touch with three triples after going 0-of-8 from beyond the arc in their quarterfinal escape against Latvia.
“They were fantastic, they deserve the win,” USA coach Steve Kerr said of Germany. “Every time we made a run, they made a big shot, got on the offensive boards, made a big play. They did what they have to do.”
Indeed, the Germans came out with guns blazing as they shot an ultra efficient 58% from the field.
Germany outscored the United States 35-24 in the third quarter to turn a 59-60 deficit to a 94-84 lead, with Obst showing the way by scattering 10 points in the period.
That lead grew to as big as 12 points, 106-94, before the Americans unleashed a 13-2 run highlighted by 7 points from Anthony Edwards to bridge the gap to 107-108.
But Obst came to the rescue, draining a corner three-pointer after shaking off Tyrese Haliburton with a nifty pump fake to give his side a four-point cushion with a minute left.
Isaac Bonga then blocked a Mikal Bridges layup, setting up Schroder to drain the dagger stepback jumper over his former Los Angeles Lakers teammate Austin Reaves.
Moritz Wagner and Johannes Thiemann added 10 points each for the unscathed Germans, who enter the championship game perfect in seven games.
“It’s a great win but we’re not where we want to be yet,” said Herbert. “This group of players want to win gold, so one more to go.”
The loss put an abrupt end to the United States’ redemption bid following its disappointing seventh-place finish four years ago in China.
Edwards paced the Americans with 23 points and 8 rebounds, while Reaves and Bridges churned out 21 and 17 points, respectively.
Unwilling to return home empty-handed for the second straight World Cup, the USA will try to salvage bronze against Canada before the gold medal game on Sunday.
Germany 113 – Obst 24, F. Wagner 22, Theis 21, Schroder 17, Thiemann 10, M. Wagner 10, Voigtmann 6, Bonga 3, Giffey 0, Lo 0.
USA 111 – Edwards 23, Reaves 21, Bridges 17, Brunson 15, Hart 9, Jackson 8, Haliburton 7, Banchero 6, Portis 5, Johnson 0.
Quarters: 33-31, 59-60, 94-84, 113-111.