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US And Germany Square Off Friday Morning In FIBA World Cup Play

This one should be pretty good. The days of automatic wins by Team USA are over.

Italy v USA: Quarter Final - FIBA Basketball World Cup
MANILA, PHILIPPINES - SEPTEMBER 05: Brandon Ingram #7, Paolo Banchero #8, and Tyrese Haliburton #4 of the United States share laughs during the FIBA Basketball World Cup quarter final game between Italy and USA at Mall of Asia Arena on September 05, 2023 in Manila, Philippines.
Photo by Ezra Acayan/Getty Images

The US will face Germany in the semifinals of the FIBA World Cup Friday (8:40 EST) and it’s going to be an interesting game.

The US is favored by 10.5 and did beat Germany in a friendly before FIBA play started, but this match is obviously going to be less, well, friendly. That game had no consequences; this one certainly will: the winner gets to play for gold on Sunday.

Germany has size, which has bothered the US here, notably in the loss to Lithuania, and a very quick guard in Dennis Schröder, who gave Team USA fits in that friendly.

The Germans also feature Mo and Franz Wagner who are teammates with Paolo Banchero in Orlando. They’re on opposite sides here of course but Banchero is an intelligent and studious player and he knows their games quite well. This is the same in reverse, of course, but Banchero is a serious student of the game.

Daneil Theis, who plays for the Indiana Pacers, is also on the team.

Germany has another advantage too, which typically international opponents have against the US: vastly more experience both individually and collectively: nine players are 26 or over; the US has five players 26 or over and no one older than 28.

There are also five players who are 23 and under, including Banchero, who is just 20.

But the US has a long-term advantage of its own: the deepest, sleekest and most athletic roster in the world and coach Steve Kerr plans to use it. Here’s what he said, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst: “We have so many guys with speed and quickness and ballhandling ability. It’s always easier to attack a defense that’s not set than one that’s set. So that’s been a theme for us.”

That’s very true on offense, but if the US can disrupt Germany on the defensive end, it’s going to be really tough for the Germans to keep up.

Well, other than Schröder, who is cat-quick.

It’s possible that this could be a major game for Banchero. He can effectively play all five positions. He’s a small center with guard skills and a big guard with post skills. Plus he know exactly how to take it to the Wagner brothers.

It’s down to four teams now and after the US-Germany game, Canada takes on Serbia to play for gold Sunday. Both teams are very tough, but we’ve seen Canada as a rising star for some time and it won’t surprise us at all if they are in the finals Sunday.