By Aris Barkas/ firstname.lastname@example.org
MANILA, Philippines – Franz Wagner finally returned to action after the ankle injury sustained against Japan and he delivered.
Even if he was visibly not at 100%, he scored 16 points on 5/8 FG which proved enough for the 81-79 win over Latvia that gave Germany a ticket to the semifinals and a matchup with the USA.
The situation would have been much different if Davis Bertans made the last shot of the game, a three that would have completed a true Cinderella story after a comeback from being down by nine in the closing two minutes. However, the ball didn’t go in.
Sharp-shooter Andreas Obst added 13 points for Germany, Mo Wagner had 12, and Johannes Thiemann 10, covering the off-shooting night of Dennis Schroder who had nine points on 4/26 FG, including 0/8 threes.
Playing from the start of the tournament without injured Kristaps Porzingis and then losing Dairis Bertans, Latvia got 20 points from Davis Bertans and 24 from Arturs Zagars.
Latvia started the game with a 13-3 run, but Germany buckled down and with their own 10-3 run completed the first period 16-13.
The dogfight continued with Germany getting even a five-point lead (25-20) with Thiemann scoring eight points in six minutes of action, but, with five minutes left in the first half, Latvia had made it again a one-point game (25-24) and even got a 31-30 lead after a layup by Arturs Zagars.
The halftime ended with the score being 36-34 for Germany with Bertans having 4/5 threes for Latvia.
His fifth three-pointer was even more impressive since he also got fouled, giving Latvia again a 38-36 lead to start the second half as the dogfight continued with Germany leading for more minutes than trailing.
The two teams entered the last period with Germany up by three (62-59) and that’s when Latvia simply ran out of gas.
The last period started with a 12-1 run (74-60) with the Wagner bros taking over and building a 14-point advantage. Still, by tooth and claw, Latvia managed to make it a two-point game after a 7-0 run (79-77) entering the last minute.
Daniel Theis with two crucial free throws after an offensive rebound pushed the lead back to four (81-77), Zagars made a layup (81-79), Shroder missed again and at the end, the shot of Bertans didn’t go in.
PHOTO CREDIT: FIBA