2023 FIBA World Cup: Germany’s success is a model for the Orlando Magic

Franz Wagner returned to the lineup and made major contributions to pick up Germany in their win over Latvia. (Photo by Ezra Acayan/Getty Images)
Franz Wagner returned to the lineup and made major contributions to pick up Germany in their win over Latvia. (Photo by Ezra Acayan/Getty Images) /

The end of close knockout round games always have a sense of chaos. The do-or-die nature of things ratchets up the pressure and makes everything feel big and potentially momentum-swinging. That is what happens when a team’s tournament is on the line.

So the end of a game and a victory at that brings relief.

Germany survived 81-79 after losing a double-digit lead early in the fourth quarter, seeing a Dennis Schroder miss on a broken play for Germany’s final possession turn into a Davis Bertans three that hit off the back iron and fell no good in an incredible shooting game for Bertans.

Their dream run nearly ended. Relief is the appropriate word for Germany to advance to the semifinals and set up a showdown with Paolo Banchero and the United States on Friday.

Germany is moving on to the FIBA World Cup semifinals. With Franz Wagner back in the lineup, the team continued to step up and fill in to ensure victory. A lesson the Orlando Magic can build on.

It is the appropriate word after Schroder struggled with nine points on 4-for-26 shooting from the floor and 0-for-8 shooting from deep to go with four assists and four turnovers. This was about as bad as Schroder could play.

It is the appropriate word too seeing Franz Wagner back on the court for the first time since their opening game against Japan last Friday. Wagner needed some time to get his legs back under him, but he quickly established himself physically on the block and then got himself going for 16 points on 5-for-8 shooting in 24 minutes with his usual array of controlled forays through the lane (adding some free throws for good measure).

As is usually the case with Wagner, when the ball was in his hands, everything seemed to work. Wagner was a big reason why Germany pulled away to take an 11-point lead early in the fourth quarter.

It all just felt very familiar to how the Orlando Magic operate. Wagner just quietly accumulates stats and makes those around him better when he has the ball in his hands with good decision after good decision. He comes in early in the fourth quarter and lifts the lineups early.

More than that what Germany has shown throughout this tournament is the exact ethos the Magic are trying to portray. They have two hubs the team revolves around and a lot of solid players who fill in the gaps.

Germany has reached this point of the tournament and survived so far without one of its stars in Wagner by having players fill in and step up. This is a team that has found what the defense gives them and has someone capable of stepping up to the plate.

That sure sounds like how the Magic want to be. They work themselves around two hubs in Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner with players capable of stepping up on any given night — whether that is Markelle Fultz or Wendell Carter in the starting lineup or Cole Anthony and Jalen Suggs off the bench.

That is certainly how the Magic want to operate as they develop themselves this season and their two budding stars grow.

Schroder has been the consistent heartbeat for Germany throughout the tournament. He has had a stellar tournament.

But with Wagner out, they have needed players to step up. It was Moe Wagner in several games throughout the tournament with big scoring performances to pace the bench and display Germany’s depth. It was Maodo Lo draining threes on several occasions to pace the team.

Germany is at this point because it is one of the deeper teams in the league. It could survive losing one of its stars because so many of those players were able to step up.

It was the same thing in Wednesday’s win. Dennis Schroder struggled so Franz Wagner picked up some of the scoring slack. As did Andreas Obst (13 points, 3 for 6 from three), Johannes Theimann (10 points, seven rebounds) and Moe Wagner (12 points, 3 for 3 from the floor and 6 for 6 from the line).

The game was a grind and Germany never quite pulled away until early in the fourth quarter. They had to find their three-point defense and it came in waves.

But at this stage of the tournament, it is about surviving and advancing. That is the only goal and for Germany that was mission accomplished in the end.

This though is what Germany is about. And this is what the Magic want to be about.

It is no coincidence that not only are the Wagner brothers on this team but Magic assistant Bret Brielmaier is also part of the staff for the German national team. There are a lot of similar principles and ideas these teams present.

Obviously, they attack and defend differently. These are not like-for-like comparisons. But the idea that this is a team that has multiple ways it can attack and win is essential to their success just as it will be essential to the Magic.

Orlando has two players in Banchero and Wagner it can build itself around. But the team’s strength should be how its players work together and how anyone seemingly could step up on any given night depending on what the game calls for and what the defense gives them.

The Magic certainly hope this will be a strength. It will be essential to their success this season with the team always dealing with the specter of injuries. Someone is always going to have to step up. And both teams have multiple players who can do that on any given night.

But the team, like with Germany at this World Cup, have a few things working for them.

They have talented players capable of both filling roles when called for and stepping up as scorers too. They have continuity too. These are players who have played together for several seasons together who know when it is their time to step up and contribute.

That is part of the basis of building a solid team.

There is obviously more to it than that. But the way Germany has advanced and thrived in this tournament and the way the team found a way to scratch out a win Wednesday are all part of the same thing.

This is a team that is very good and understands how to play with each other. They adapt as the circumstances change and they find a way to be successful through it all. That is what it takes to be successful, even if the team does not have the top-end star talent like Team USA or like Luka Doncic and Slovenia (a team Germany handled on its way to the knockout round).

It is why Germany has just as good a chance to win the gold medal as any team as a group that can give the U.S. some problems.

dark. Next. Paolo Banchero made the right choice playing for Team USA

If there is a model from this World Cup for who the Magic want to be, look no further than the way the Wagner’s German team plays. That is who the Magic want to be.