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U.S. stunned by Germany in FIBA World Cup semifinals

FIBA World Cup

USA’s Jalen Brunson (R) drives past Germany’s Andreas Obst (L) during the FIBA Basketball World Cup Semi-Finals match between USA and Germany in Manila on September 8, 2023. (Photo by SHERWIN VARDELEON / AFP) (Photo by SHERWIN VARDELEON/AFP via Getty Images)

AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. men’s basketball team was upset by Germany in the FIBA World Cup semifinals, sending the Americans to the bronze-medal game.

Germany, powered by NBA forwards Franz Wagner and Daniel Theis, beat the U.S. 113-111 in Manila to reach its first final at an Olympics or worlds (Sunday versus Serbia).

It was Germany’s first win over the U.S. in their ninth meeting in the Dream Team era (since 1992).

The U.S. has lost two games at a second consecutive World Cup and in those defeats broke the record for the most points it has allowed at an Olympics or worlds.

FIBA WORLD CUP: Schedule, Results

“This team is very worthy of winning a championship, and we just didn’t get it done,” head coach Steve Kerr said. “The game has been globalized over the last 30 years or so.

“This is not 1991 anymore.”

Four years ago, it placed seventh, the worst major tournament result in program history, then rebounded to win a fourth consecutive Olympic title in Tokyo.

On Sunday, the U.S. plays Canada for bronze, bidding to avoid losing three times at one major tournament for the first time since the 2004 Athens Olympics. That debacle in Greece helped lead to an overhaul of U.S. men’s basketball.

In an acceleration of a recent trend, the top Americans in the NBA aren’t playing in the World Cup. Some international stars are also absent. Many players who plan to take part in the Olympics are using this summer to rest between NBA seasons.

For the first time in the Dream Team era, the U.S. roster includes zero All-NBA players and nobody who has previous Olympic or world experience. (Excluding the 1998 Worlds, when the original roster did have players who met that criteria, but the final team included none of them due to the NBA lockout.)

The U.S. lost to Lithuania 110-104 in group play last Sunday after the Lithuanians stormed out to a 31-12 lead after the first quarter.

Lithuania outrebounded the U.S. 43-27 and made 14 of 25 three-point shots, overcoming Anthony Edwards’ game-high 35 points.

The U.S. bounced back to crush Italy in the quarterfinals.

The U.S. and Germany, in its second-ever world semifinal (and first since 2002), played close until the Germans scored 35 points in the third quarter to take a 10-point lead.

The U.S., behind Edwards’ 23 points, closed the gap to 106-103 with three minutes left but could not erase it completely.

Germany is best known for producing Detlef Schrempf and Dirk Nowitzki, but it’s never performed as consistently as European powers like Spain and Lithuania.

It qualified for just one Olympics during Nowitzki’s career (2008) and has never made an Olympic semifinal.