Team USA coach Steve Kerr lavishly praised Germany’s starting backcourt, starting with Dennis Schroder, with Jalen Brunson within earshot, following their 113-111 semifinal loss on Friday in the 2023 FIBA World Cup.
“The main point of the loss was just we weren’t ever able to make them feel us defensively,” Kerr said in the postgame presser. “I give Dennis Schroder a ton of credit. I think he’s a really tough guard to handle. He’s quick. He can get the ball and penetrate constantly, and that really threatens and compromises your defense.”
Schroder, a backup guard in the NBA, shredded Team USA’s point-of-attack defense and outplayed the New York Knicks star point guard. The skinny German point guard scattered 17 points on 7-of-13 shooting, including 3-of-7 from 3-point range, a game-high nine assists, two rebounds and two steals without a single turnover. Germany outscored Team USA by seven points during Schroder’s 33 minutes on the court.
On paper, Brunson also looked solid, producing 15 points on 4-of-9 shots and seven assists against three turnovers. But when you looked deeper, his game-worst minus-19 told the real story.
“Terrible, plain and simple,” Brunson said when a reporter asked to describe his performance.
Team USA has been plagued with slow starts with Brunson running the show. They fell for it again against Germany, who led 25-20, when Brunson got his customary breather in the first quarter.
Brunson tried to rally Team USA in the fourth quarter with six points and two assists in Team USA’s first 10 points. But despite his offensive prowess, Germany kept their 10-point lead as Tyrese Haliburton replaced him to close the contest.
Haliburton wound up with seven points, eight assists and a plus-14, both team highs.
Wizard of Obst
While his Villanova teammate, Mikal Bridges, drew the Schroder assignment on defense, Brunson could not contain German gunner Andreas Obst either.
The 6-foot-3 Obst went off for a tournament personal-best 24 points on 6-of-11 shooting and 4-of-8 from beyond the arc. His last 3-pointer against Haliburton, who slipped on the floor while trailing him with 74 seconds left, proved to be the dagger.
“I thought we just made some mistakes,” Kerr said.
The four-time NBA champion coach noted Germany’s first basket — Obst’s first 3-pointer off a Johannes Voigtmann offensive rebound — which served as a bad omen.
“It sounds crazy, but the first offensive rebound of the game,” Kerr said, “we just got to box out. Right from the beginning, you got to set a tone.”
And they didn’t.
“The whole game opens up for [Obst], and I thought he was the key to the game actually — eight for nine free throws and a bunch of threes — and you know, he was one of our keys going in, and we didn’t get him under control and that really hurt us,” Kerr lamented.
All-Knicks Bronze Medal Game
What the Knicks fans have dreamed of as a gold medal showdown was stunningly reduced to a battle for bronze between RJ Barrett and the pair of Brunson and Josh Hart.
Barrett and Canada also fell short in a 95-86 loss to Serbia in the semifinals that arranged an all-European World Cup Finals.
Barrett led the Canadians with 23 points, picking up the slack for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who was zeroed in on defense and plagued by early foul trouble.