Team USA vs. Germany: A David vs. Goliath Battle in Manila

In the bustling city of Manila, Philippines, the stage was set for Team USA as they meticulously crafted their roster and devised an intricate game plan for the World Cup cycle. It was a calculated gamble, one that held promise and saw the Americans stacking the deck in their favor. Yet, they entered this high-stakes competition with a stark awareness of the vulnerability that accompanied their strategic choices.

This audacious wager, rooted in the belief that disparities in size could be counterbalanced by other exceptional attributes, ultimately faltered. Germany, a formidable European squad that loomed large over the American contingent, adroitly exploited their size advantage, resulting in a narrow yet decisive victory. The final score spoke volumes: Team USA fell short with a heart-wrenching 113-111 loss in the world semifinals on a fateful Friday.

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FIBA Basketball, USA basketball at Manali (Image from the guardian)

This disheartening outcome marked the second consecutive denial of gold for the Americans. They found themselves consigned to vie for the bronze medal, a matchup scheduled for Sunday (ESPN+, 4:45 a.m. ET) against Canada, a team that had succumbed to Serbia in the day’s earlier semifinal clash.

Throughout the tournament, the U.S. exhibited a spirited and aggressive performance. However, their Achilles’ heel lay in their stature; the glaring disadvantage manifested repeatedly, much like their prior encounter with Lithuania, which ended in defeat.

Coach Steve Kerr candidly acknowledged the formidable challenge they faced: “They’ve got a lot of big, robust players. They exerted tremendous pressure on our defense, and, to their credit, they simply outperformed us.”

Germany’s ability to secure multiple scoring opportunities was instrumental in their victory. Their dominance on the offensive boards, with a staggering 12 offensive rebounds, translated into 25 crucial second-chance points, a stark contrast to Team USA’s meager eight.

Furthermore, Germany’s point guard, Dennis Schroder, proved to be a formidable weapon against the American squad. His deftness in handling the ball under pressure, combined with the towering German roster, paved the way for a consistent flow of high-percentage scoring opportunities.

Alas, Team USA found themselves overwhelmed by this onslaught. Guard Anthony Edwards lamented, “We were outmuscled on the court. They displayed greater physicality than us.”

Despite trailing by as much as 12 points, the American team displayed resilience, narrowing the deficit to just one point within the final two minutes. However, a decisive 3-pointer by Andreas Obst, the last of his impressive 24-point performance, ultimately thwarted the American comeback bid.

The contest also revealed mismatches when the U.S. switched defensive strategies on screen-and-roll plays. As they crowded the paint in an attempt to counteract their size deficiency, Germany capitalized by securing open looks from beyond the arc. Their proficiency from long range was evident as they drained 13 of 30 three-point attempts.

This impressive shooting display allowed Germany to achieve an astounding 58% overall shooting accuracy and accumulate a substantial 50 points in the paint.

In addition to Schroder’s contributions, German NBA big men also made a significant impact. Franz Wagner tallied 22 points, while Daniel Theis added 21, further compounding Team USA’s woes.

Reflecting on the defeat, Austin Reaves remarked, “If you concede 113 points in a 40-minute game, your chances of winning are slim. Losing is always disappointing.”
Coach Kerr had maintained a smaller lineup throughout the tournament, deploying Josh Hart at power forward and Jaren Jackson Jr. at center. He continued with this strategy, designating Paolo Banchero as a backup big man, while Walker Kessler, the sole true center on the roster, remained sidelined.

Under specific circumstances, Team USA had triumphed with this lineup. However, success hinged on an aggressive defense that could generate fast-break opportunities. Unfortunately, the margin for error in this critical match proved insurmountable, as the German team’s imposing size could not be adequately mitigated.

Notably, Team USA was without the services of Brandon Ingram, who was sidelined due to an upper respiratory illness. This marked the first absence due to injury or illness for the team in the tournament.

Anthony Edwards led the American squad with 23 points, closely followed by Mikal Bridges, who contributed 17.

Jalen Brunson summed up the team’s disappointment, acknowledging the lofty expectations placed upon them: “We’re expected to win year in and year out, primarily because of USA basketball’s storied history.

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