World Champion! The German basketball players completed a perfect tournament in Manila with their historic first World Cup title and crowned an entire generation. The outstanding captain Dennis Schröder and his team beat Serbia in a thrilling final on Sunday with 83:77 (47:47), thus pulling off one of the biggest surprises in German sports history. Led by Schröder (28 points) and the always aggressive Franz Wagner (19), the third place in the European Championship won the heated duel with former national coach Svetislav Pesic.
Manila’s gold coup is the second international title after the 1993 European Championships. Even the generation around the German basketball icon Dirk Nowitzki, who has since retired, has never achieved such a success. After eight wins from eight games, the golden Naismith Trophy goes to Germany for the next four years until the 2027 World Cup in Qatar. The 74-year-old Pesic was not granted a second World Cup title as head coach after 2002. A decent team performance paired with the once again outstanding Bogdan Bogdanovic was not enough against the strong German team.
With the memorable 113:111 over Olympic champion USA in the semi-finals, the hype had increased in recent days. While the US professionals also lost bronze against Canada (118:127 after extra time) on Sunday, ZDF in Germany only started broadcasting the live broadcast for the final. Chancellor Olaf Scholz had also been aware of what was happening with Schröder and Co. since Friday at the latest.
“You deserve it!” Scholz wrote before the game started via X, previously Twitter. A good two hours later, which turned into a big fight against physical Serbs in front of 12,022 spectators in the sold-out Mall of Asia Arena, the historic success was perfect. The first German World Cup title came exactly eight years after Nowitzki’s last international match. And around four years after the debacle in China, which ended with a devastating 18th place after being eliminated in the preliminary round against the Dominican Republic.
Dennis Schröder and Franz Wagner lead Germany to victory
“The boys understand this chance. It’s a chance that you only get once in a lifetime in a grand final like this,” national coach Gordon Herbert told his team. The atmosphere in the modern arena in the Philippines was sparkling. And the Serbian fans started chanting “goodbye” in German early on. Even without the sidelined NBA professional Nikola Jokic, your team proved to be the tough opponent Germany had expected.
In contrast to the sloppy US players, the Serbs defended tough. “Pesic defense,” as Herbert warned. In the attack, the Serbs made two three-point throws with Brett, and the lead changed back and forth. And Germany accepted the challenge with a change of strategy. Instead of playmaker Schröder, the ball kept going to the 22-year-old Wagner, who wanted to seize the game on the very largest stage in the early stages.
Wagner picked up the pace, moved energetically to the basket and again had a few verbal exchanges with the referees. After a balanced first half, the two key German players Schröder and Wagner each had 14 points. A Schröder dunk shortly before half-time had the German bench cheering loudly. Previously, the playmaker had acted a lot off the ball. The role players Daniel Theis and Andreas Obst, who were outstanding in the semi-finals, had more difficulty finding their way into the intense game.
The final remained contested. Germany pulled away for the first time in the third quarter, but Serbia came back. Leader Schröder drew the game more and more into himself. With his enormous speed and great determination, the playmaker tried to finally crown his almost nine-year career in the national jersey. “I’m trying to put basketball Germany on the map,” Schröder said. This was achieved in an outstanding manner with the World Cup title in Manila.