Germany wins FIBA World Cup; USA basketball falls to Canada bronze medal game

Germany capped an undefeated FIBA World Cup run with its first gold medal, while USA Basketball left the tournament empty-handed for the second straight time.

Faced with a fierce fourth-quarter rally by Serbia, Germany survived to win Sunday’s championship game, 83-77, at Mall of Asia Arena in the Philippines. The Germans, who upset the Americans in Friday’s semifinals, got a game-high 28 points from guard Dennis Schröder, who closed out the win with a driving layup and three free throws in the final minute, earning himself tournament MVP honors. Franz Wagner added 19 points and seven rebounds for Germany, which finished the tournament with an 8-0 record.

Aleksa Avramovic scored a team-high 21 points for Serbia, which claimed silver with a 6-2 record even though two-time NBA MVP Nikola Jokic didn’t play in the tournament. Bogdan Bogdanovic added 17 points and five assists to help the Serbians win their first FIBA World Cup medal since they took silver in 2014.

“It’s been a long ride,” Schröder said. “I’ve been here over 10 years. Last year, winning the [EuroBasket] bronze medal and then coming in here and going 8-0, it’s an unbelievable group. We started in the end of July being together. Coach did a great job of bringing us together. To win a gold medal is a blessing. . . . We wrote history. Dirk Nowitzki is one of best [power forwards] ever, who changed the game of basketball and was an NBA champ. So much respect for this guy. I was honored to play with him in 2015 at the European championship, and surpassing that is a great achievement.”

For the United States, the disappointment of its semifinal loss to Germany turned to heartbreak Sunday during a 127-118 overtime loss to Canada in the bronze medal game. Playing without three players because of illness, the Americans fought back from double-digit deficits in the first and fourth quarters to force overtime, only to be outscored 16-7 in the extra period. Canada claimed its first FIBA World Cup medal thanks to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Dillon Brooks, who pummeled the United States’ shorthanded defense.

“The medal means a lot to the guys, the program, the board, the country, everybody, the coaches,” Canada Coach Jordi Fernandez said. “An accomplishment like this, you don’t know what it is until you do it. All the relationships we’ve built will stay there forever. We have a great program.”

The narrow defeat to a budding rival capped a disheartening tournament for the United States, which finished 5-3. The Americans won their first four games before losing to Lithuania, Germany and Canada over the last eight days. Jaren Jackson Jr., Paolo Banchero and Brandon Ingram all missed the bronze medal game, forcing Coach Steve Kerr to start Walker Kessler and use centerless lineups down the stretch.

“I feel bad for our guys,” Kerr said. “They really put so much into it for the last six weeks. It was an amazing group. It was tough to try to hang in there tonight without three guys who were very important to the team.”

The Canadians finished the tournament 6-2, clinching a spot at the 2024 Olympics along the way. Gilgeous-Alexander emerged as the tournament’s brightest star, shaking free from regular double teams Sunday to finish with 31 points, six rebounds and 12 assists.

Brooks, who famously lost a war of words with LeBron James during the playoffs and parted ways with the Memphis Grizzlies over the summer, scored a game-high 39 points and shot 7 for 8 from outside. After receiving boos at various points during the tournament, he was serenaded with “M-V-P!” chants by the Manila crowd in recognition of an excellent two-way performance that closed a redemptive tournament run.

“I appreciate [the critics],” Brooks said. “From the beginning, everybody that was throwing shots on Twitter and Instagram watching me play. It just helps me get better and better each day. It motivates me to get better. … It’s an amazing feeling being recognized during the game. I never take it for granted. The work doesn’t stop here. I’m not satisfied, and neither is any of us on this team.”

Though Canada jumped out to an early 23-13 lead and largely controlled the action, the United States unleashed a 12-0 run in the fourth quarter to pull in front with just over six minutes remaining in regulation. The North American neighbors traded baskets and free throws during a tense endgame, with Gilgeous-Alexander hitting a jumper and Brooks making two free throws to give Canada a four-point lead with 10 seconds left.

Facing near-certain defeat, Mikal Bridges stepped to the free throw line with 4.2 seconds left. After making his first attempt, Bridges intentionally missed his second and the ball caromed off the rim to the right corner. The Brooklyn Nets forward then tracked down his own rebound, retreated behind the arc and drilled a game-tying turnaround three-pointer to tie the score at 111 with 0.2 seconds left.

But that miraculous shot was the high point for the Americans. Gilgeous-Alexander scored seven quick points in overtime to put Canada ahead for good.

“We didn’t get enough stops,” Bridges said. “[Canada] had a rhythm. But we just fought to the end. I can take that with me after this. It hurts.”

Anthony Edwards led the United States with a team-high 24 points, five rebounds and three assists. Bridges added 19 points, nine rebounds and four assists, while Austin Reaves chipped in 23 points and five rebounds off the bench.

The 22-year-old Edwards, who averaged 18.9 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.8 assists across eight games, joined Schröder, Bogdanovic, Gilgeous-Alexander and Slovenia’s Luka Doncic on FIBA’s all-tournament team. Brooks was named the tournament’s best defensive player, and Australia’s Josh Giddey won the rising star award.

The fourth-place finish represented a degree of progress for the United States after it was seventh in 2019, but the program still fell well short of its standards. Inexperience and inconsistency cost the Americans, and they were undone by a porous defense that conceded an average of 117 points in their three defeats.

“It’s hard for us to build continuity with Team USA because we naturally have so much turnover from year to year,” Kerr said. “We put ourselves in a great position. We got to the semifinals and were right there, but we couldn’t get enough stops. We didn’t defend well enough against Germany and Canada.”

Team USA’s World Cup loss was rough. The 2002 squad’s was ‘embarrassing.’

The roster featured four all-stars and seven former lottery picks. However, none of the 12 American players had previous experience in the Olympics or the FIBA World Cup, and backup forward Bobby Portis was the only NBA champion. The Americans, who have taken gold at the past four Olympics, have won just two of the past seven FIBA World Cups.

“I didn’t need any reminder [about the rising quality of international competition],” Kerr said. “I was on the staff in 2019. The United States hasn’t won the World Cup since 2014. It’s hard. … The narrative about USA Basketball and FIBA: Do we need reminders? We’re past that. These teams are really good.”

Sign up for our weekly NBA newsletter to get the best basketball coverage in your inbox

Source link

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button