How much positivity can you get from a night that almost ended in a nightmare with your leader missing 22 field goals? Check out this German national team. 

Credit: FIBA
Credit FIBA

How much positivity can you get from a night that nearly turned into a nightmare, with your leader missing 22 field goals? Look at this German national team.

Player of the Game
Franz  Wagner
Franz Wagner
Points 16
Accuracy 5-8
Rebounds 8
Assists 3

At one point, it felt like watching a ship sinking with Dennis Schroder at the helm.

That's the impression we had from the stands, and it's likely the image that German head coach Gordon Herbert had in his mind as he watched their lead rapidly fade away against Latvia in the fourth quarter.

Schroder was headed for an all-time low in FIBA basketball, missing 22 field goals out of 26 attempts (4/26). He tied Kirk Penney's record for the most misses in World Cup history, as the New Zealand guard went 7-of-29 in 2002.

To put this into perspective, since 2000, Kobe Bryant holds the NBA record with 30 missed shots in a 48-minute game. To illustrate further, Schroder missed 22 shots, while the entire German team combined missed 20.

Schroder scored 9 points (4/18 2P, 0/8 3P), with 4 assists, 4 turnovers, and his presence resulted in a team-worst plus/minus rating (-20) in 30 minutes of play. In the remaining 10 minutes, Germany outscored the Latvians by 22 points.

It wasn't just an ugly statistic. Schroder, who finally made his first field goal after the first 12 unsuccessful attempts, appeared to be forcing the game and putting his team in numerous 1-on-1 situations, disrupting the offensive flow the bench players had brought to the floor.

Yet, it would be unjust to solely focus on Schroder's performance on a night when the German national team reached the World Cup semifinals for the first time in 21 years.

"I probably had the worst game of my career. But we still found the way to win the game," Schroder admitted after the win, 81-79.

"I just tried to stay positive. At the end of the day, if you make or miss shots, you can't control that. But what you can control is to be positive. Still, talk to your teammates as a leader and captain. I can't fall into a bad mood. I'm just happy for everybody else stepping up, and happily, we won the game."

Right after the final whistle, Schroder shook his head, realizing Germany was just one Davis Bertans 3-pointer away from creating one of the biggest upsets of the FIBA World Cup 2023.

But the German players ensured their leader didn't let any negative thoughts about his performance creep in.

They surrounded the team's shortest player (1.85m), jumping and fooling around him and offering hugs.

Schroder lit up. His teammates' antics and support were a great remedy after a bizarre night of basketball.

"I think that's a part of very good teams. It's a team, you know," Moritz Wagner recalled after the game.

"Dennis draws so much attention. He's a beast. He's been carrying us. I'm not worried about him, though, believe me," he winked.

"Everybody just kept on playing their own game, keep lifting him up. He did a great job staying aggressive and not letting his offensive night impact the game. It's a team game. Not always everybody is going to make every shot, so that's what it is all about," Franz Wagner responded.

A 22-year-old Orlando Magic forward returned after missing four games due to injury.

However, there were no indications of the ankle sprain that sidelined him in a World Cup opener against Japan.

Upon entering the game as a substitute, Wagner displayed remarkable activity and aggression on the court, including an impressive attempt against Andrejs Grazulis. His presence ignited the second unit, which outscored Latvia's bench by a staggering result of 44-6.

Franz Wagner contributed significantly, tallying 16 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, and a team-high +19 in just 24 minutes of play.

"Two levels to it. As a teammate, I'm very excited he's back because he's really F-ing good and wins us games. So it's a little selfish of me," Wagner responded with a swag.

"And as a brother, from the human side, I'm just happy to see him laugh, smile, and do what he does best. He's a bad man out there, so it's fun to see your brother play like that," Moritz smiled.

Moritz Wagner, who also came off the bench, made a significant impact with 12 points, 4 rebounds, 2 steals, and unmatched energy on both ends of the floor.

His contribution was pivotal in helping his team secure 14 offensive rebounds, which translated into 20 second-chance points.

On a night when Schroder was struggling, and the entire German team was only successful on 40% of their field goal attempts, Wagner's performance proved to be immensely valuable.

"I'm always like that. I'm always a little crazy. You get to the semifinal of the World Cup, of course, it's emotional," he smiled.

Latvia put on an incredible and inspiring performance, led by Arturs Zagars, who scored 24 points and contributed eight assists. Additionally, Davis Bertans had a hot shooting night, adding 20 points while making 6 out of 13 three-point attempts.

Nonetheless, Germany secured their spot in the semifinals, where they are set to face Team USA.

Many believe that, given their personnel, versatility on both ends of the floor, game flow, and the chemistry they've developed since EuroBasket 2022, this German team possesses all the necessary elements to compete with and potentially defeat the Americans.

Germany held a 16-point lead against the USA in an exhibition game before the World Cup. However, Anthony Edwards and Austin Reaves sparked a remarkable comeback, resulting in a hard-fought victory for the Americans.

"Tough matchup. Unbelievable team. They lost to Lithuania and responded. They showed their qualities and their talent. Tough matchup for any team in the World," Maodo Lo responded with respect to Team USA facing the upcoming challenge.

With their impressive qualities and Franz Wagner finding his rhythm after an injury, especially starting with this victory against Latvia, Germany is becoming an increasingly intriguing challenger against Team USA.

Furthermore, their leader is undoubtedly poised for a rebound performance after enduring the worst game of his career.

"I have no doubts he will bounce back," Gordon Herbert spoke about Dennis Schroder.

"Adversity builds strength. Obviously, he had a really tough day. He missed layups and wide-open shots. But he is a super tough kid, very competitive. I have no doubt he'll bounce back."

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Field goals
Free throws

Best players

Franz  Wagner
16 PTS
5/8 FG
4/5 FT
Arturs  Zagars
24 PTS
9/17 FG
2/2 FT
Few players
Rodions  Kurucs
10 REB
Dennis  Schroder
4 As
4 TO
30 MIN
Arturs  Zagars
8 As
2 TO
32 MIN
Franz  Wagner
22 EFF
75% 2P%
50% 3P%
Arturs  Zagars
24 EFF
56% 2P%
50% 3P%