MANILA, Philippines — If you had told the members of Team USA that they would be right where they are today on the precipice of a FIBA World Cup gold medal many may have not believed you. It’s been a long, winding road; the kind of journey that tests the mettle of athletes and shapes legends. We’re talking weeks of training in Las Vegas, followed by pit stops in Spain and Abu Dhabi, before finally landing in Manila for the group stages, second rounds, and quarterfinals. The journey has seen the team log over 14,000 miles, down more than 100 meals that were not homemade, play 11 games, and pose for a photo album’s worth of pictures. But here they are, one win away from the gold-medal game.
Rematch with Germany: A Preview
They’ll face Germany in a pulse-pounding, high-stakes World Cup semifinal match on Friday night, in a repeat of their exhibition game just three weeks ago. The last time they met, Team USA found themselves in a 16-point deficit, only to rally and snatch a 99-91 win. Since then, Germany hasn’t lost a single game, making them the sole undefeated team in the tournament.
It’s been a grueling five and a half weeks. Every dribble, every shot, every defense set up, it’s all been part of this journey to get to where we are now. We’re not going to motivate them with a grandiose Knute Rockne speech. Most of these young guys don’t even know who that is. Our plan is simple: Show them what we need to do and let their talent speak for itself.
Past Performances and Expectations
The U.S. has good reason to stay on its toes, as Germany gave them a run for their money in their last encounter. Anthony Edwards erupted for 34 points in that game, and the U.S. surged ahead with an 18-0 run. Yet, it was barely enough to defeat a resolute German team.
We’ve fought tooth and nail to be here. It’s not going to be a stroll in the park, and we’re not treating it like one. We’re all in. No half measures.
Germany’s Road to the Semifinals: An Undefeated Streak
Though Vegas oddsmakers and FanDuel Sportsbook paint the U.S. as the favorites, Team USA isn’t treating this like a gimme. They’re acutely aware of the prowess of the German team, especially given Germany’s dominance throughout the tournament. Johannes Thiemann, a key player for Germany, couldn’t contain his excitement.
There’s also a touch of NBA stardom on the German roster. Dennis Schroder, who plays for the Toronto Raptors, brings a decade’s worth of NBA experience to the table. And, with several players sharing NBA teammates, the familiarity could be a game-changer. For instance, U.S. forward Paolo Banchero, who plays alongside German brothers Franz and Moritz Wagner at Orlando, is a wild card in the team’s strategic planning.
The Historical Context: U.S. Dominance Over Germany
Historically, the U.S. has a clean sheet against Germany in major international tournaments—6-0, to be exact. However, the 2008 Beijing Olympics saw the U.S. bulldoze Germany with a 106-57 scoreline. But don’t expect a repeat performance.
It’s not going to be a cakewalk. We respect them, and we know they’re prepped and ready.
Canada vs. Serbia: The Other Semifinal Showdown
Across the court in the first semifinal, Canada is set to face Serbia. Even without NBA champions Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic, both teams have shown grit and mettle, making it to the medal rounds with 5-1 records. Jordi Fernandez, Canada’s coach, lavished praise on Serbia and its legendary coach, Svetislav Pesic.
Conclusion: More Than Just A Game
As the Basketball World Cup edges towards its grand finale, one thing is for certain: we’re in for a spectacle that will grace the annals of basketball history. Whether it’s the U.S. or Germany, Canada or Serbia, dreams will be made, and legends will be forged. In this cauldron of athletic greatness, it’s not just about who wins; it’s about how they get there and the stories that come out of it. And for basketball aficionados, it doesn’t get much better than this.