Germany, Serbia to contest world basketball final
Germany and Serbia have reached today’s FIBA World Cup final after years of playing together, while the US’ collection of NBA stars ran out of time to gel as a team.
Germany and Serbia are to face off in Manila after knocking out the glamor names of the US and Canada in Friday’s semi-finals.
The US, who lost 113-111 to Germany, arrived in the Philippines with a team full of up-and-coming NBA talent who had been together for only a matter of weeks before the tournament.
Germany, by contrast, had been steadily building after finishing third at last year’s EuroBasket tournament.
Franz Wagner, who scored 22 points against the US, said “it definitely helps playing together more times every summer.”
“For me, it’s just the second time, but for almost everybody else, they’ve been playing with the national team for multiple years,” Wagner said. “They’ve got years of experience at this level and of playing together too, so that helped us immensely.”
US head coach Steve Kerr has stressed the differences between the NBA and international basketball since arriving at the World Cup.
International games are eight minutes shorter and have different rules and referees.
The US have come up against national teams who play together regularly and are familiar with the international game.
National pride is also on the line for teams who see the World Cup as the sport’s pinnacle.
“We represent our families, our people,” said Serbia’s Marko Guduric after beating Canada in their semi-final. “You see the crowd that we have here — I can’t imagine how it is now in Serbia.”
International basketball has become more competitive over the past few decades.
The current scene is a far cry from the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, when the US “Dream Team” of Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and others steamrolled the rest of the competition.
“The game has been globalized over the last 30 years or so and these games are difficult,” Kerr said. “This is not 1992 anymore. Players are better all over the world, teams are better and it’s not easy to win a World Cup or an Olympic Games.”
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