Germany felt good about its World Cup chances early on, says Franz Wagner
Franz Wagner described Germany’s conquest of the United States in the semifinals of the Fiba World Cup as a validation of what the team had believed even before the two squads met in a pre-tournament friendly in Abu Dhabi.
Germany claimed a 113-111 victory before a stunned crowd at Mall of Asia Arena to arrange an all-European final with Serbia in a result different from the 99-91 loss it absorbed to the Americans before flying into Manila for the competition.
“I think it confirms what we felt before our game in Abu Dhabi,” Wagner said.
Anthony Edwards exploded in the fourth quarter of the said warmup as Team USA rallied from a double-digit deficit to take the victory. It was a similar scenario in their latest meetup, this time, with higher stakes on the line, but with the outcome ending differently.
The Germans are hoping to end the World Cup with a Naismith Trophy to take home following a campaign built on the foundations of last year’s Eurobasket, when they lost to eventual champion Spain in the semifinals before settling for third.
Now they have a chance to give themselves the label of world champion.
“I think last year, we felt that we let that one slip, and we were better than the bronze that we got and we had a big goal coming in,” said the Orlando Magic forward.
“Like coach [Gordon Herbert] said, we’re one win away. But I think from the first day that we got together in the summer, we believed that we’re a special group that can win against any team,” added Wagner.
Wagner had 22 points and five rebounds in the semis, showing his return since the start of the final phase has been an integral part of unbeaten Germany’s success.
He missed four games bridging the first and second rounds in Okinawa due to an injured ankle sustained against the tournament co-host Japan.