Franz Wagner continues to shine in Germany’s prep for Eurobasket

Franz Wagner continued to put in some great work as Germany beat Slovenia in World Cup qualifying. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)
Franz Wagner continued to put in some great work as Germany beat Slovenia in World Cup qualifying. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images) /

To this point, everything has been a prelude for Franz Wagner and Germany.

Sure, they had a game last week against former MVP Nikola Jokic in a blowout win for Serbia during an exhibition tournament. But that was not a game with much stakes. And Dennis Schroder was out.

In the run-up to next week’s Eurobasket tournament, all eyes were on the games that would really matter. The two FIBA World Cup Qualifiers for Germany they would be using as advanced warmups for the big tournament.

The biggest game among them? A showdown with Eurobasket opponent and MVP candidate Luka Doncic and Slovenia at home. This was going to be a big test for every part of the German national team as they aim to climb back into contention in Europe and advance out of the group stage with a new, young team.

Germany and Franz Wagner aced a big test ahead of Eurobasket on Sunday as Wagner led the team in scoring for an upset win over Slovenia in World Cup Qualifying.

As a German basketball magazine put it late last week in their run-up to Eurobasket, Orlando Magic forward Franz Wagner is the “Face of the Next Generation.” And Sunday’s game against Doncic was as much a test for him.

So far, that moniker is proving to be true. Wagner is delivering everything he delivered with the Magic last year as a rookie and more. And while he may not be the ball-dominant scorer that is typical of an All-Star, it is clear to see how much he has advanced and improved his game.

On a big stage against Doncic, Wagner matched up with the Dallas Mavericks superstar and held his own as Germany scored a major win.

Wagner scored 16 points and grabbed seven rebounds, including five offensive rebounds, in a 90-71 win over Slovenia that will almost assuredly clinch Germany’s spot in next summer’s FIBA World Cup. Doncic, for his part, had 23 points, six rebounds, five assists and four turnovers. The two were not always directly matched up, but Wagner certainly got his chance against him and found some success.

That is a heck of a defensive effort from Germany overall. And Wagner found his pockets to score, attacking the offensive glass as all of the German team did despite its lack of size, to blow the game open and score the win.

Despite being the team’s leading scorer, there are not a lot of highlights from Wagner above.

Dennis Schroder scored all 14 of his points in the second half to help Germany open the lead up. In many ways, Germany plays the perfect style for Wagner. They are moving the ball effectively and that is an environment where Wagner can succeed and find his points.

And he is finding them.

Throughout the pre-Eurobasket exhibition games, Wagner has displayed all the skills that had Magic fans falling in love with him during his rookie year. He cuts and finishes with strength and finesse, moves the ball effectively and has shown improved 3-point shooting — although Sunday he made just two of his eight shots.

Wagner has fit in well. And while he is the rookie on this team — and Schroder is still very much the engine for the team — he has quickly emerged as a key piece and a player Germany needs to score at a steady clip to be competitive and win.

Germany has to be feeling very good about where the team stands heading into their Eurobasket opener against France on Thursday. Wagner’s emergence and development is a big part of that.

And he had another gritty, solid game as Germany put itself on a good path toward next year’s big international tournament.

As exciting as that is, so too is the Magic presence there. Cole Anthony and Jalen Suggs were both in Germany for an adidas event this week. They stopped by to watch the game and met up with the injured Moe Wagner.

The Magic will open their training camp exactly one month from now as they prepare for the regular season. But everyone will be watching what Franz Wagner does as he continues to emerge and develop on the international stage.

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Sunday was a solid step in that direction with a big win now under their belt ahead of the big tournament starting this week.