2023 FIBA World Cup

World Cup Standouts, Day 14: Bogdan Bogdanovic, Franz Wagner step up

Take a look at the players who stood out the most during FIBA World Cup play on Sept. 8.

Bogdan Bogdanovic was clutch in the 4th quarter for Serbia as it knocked off Canada.

Friday’s FIBA World Cup games were two of the most important yet as berths in the World Cup Final were on the line. Although Canada boasted plenty of NBA names on its roster, that wasn’t enough to get it past the balanced efforts of Serbia. Behind the play of Atlanta Hawks standout Bogdan Bogdanovic, Serbia won 95-86 to reach its first World Cup Final since 2014.

In the other semifinal matchup, Germany pulled off a stunner and upset the United States, 113-111, thanks in large part to Franz Wagner, Daniel Theis and Dennis Schroder. With Friday’s games completed, Sunday’s slate is set: the World Cup Final (Germany vs. Serbia) at 4:30 a.m. ET and the third place game (Canada vs. USA) at 8:40 a.m. ET.

Here’s a look at who stood out during the quarterfinal action of the 2023 FIBA World Cup.

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Bogdan Bogdanovic, Serbia

Save for a rough showing in Serbia’s lone loss in World Cup play (a 78-76 loss to Italy in the second round), Bogdanovic has been a consistent force throughout FIBA play. That continued in Friday’s 95-86 win against Canada as he set the tone early and late for his team. Bogdanovic finished with 23 points and, in the fourth quarter with Serbia holding an 84-71 lead with 6:54 left, he delivered a block, two steals and two key layups to ice the victory. Additionally, he now has 427 career FIBA World Cup points, surpassing Dirk Nowitzki (425) on that list. Serbia now faces Germany in the World Cup Final on Sunday.

Franz Wagner, Germany

Whether or not Wagner uses his play at FIBA to fuel an NBA All-Star berth in 2023-24 is unknown. What’s undeniable is the effort and leadership he’s shown for Germany in his return to the lineup just one game ago. He followed up his 16-point, eight-rebound showing in the quarterfinals with a 22-point, five-rebound effort in Germany’s 113-111 win against Team USA on Friday. He slowed a bit in the fourth quarter, but Wagner’s energy and crafty drives early in the game gave Germany the points and confidence it needed to beat an NBA-laden USA roster.

Daniel Theis, Germany

The exact formula for an upset can be difficult to attain, but one thing is for certain: role players stepping up often helps the cause. Theis did that in Germany’s 113-111 win against the U.S. with his performance in the paint. He finished with 21 points, seven rebounds and a block and was constantly putting a body on someone on missed shots — something the USA lacked all game. Theis was part of Germany’s efforts to play tough at times around the basket and it paid off in a historic win for the team.

RJ Barrett, Canada

After enduring a slow start in FIBA play, Barrett became one of the more consistent scoring options for Canada as the World Cup wore on. In Friday’s loss to Serbia, Canada shot 48.2% to Serbia’s 62.1%, but Barrett was a bright spot in defeat. He finished with 23 points (on 8-for-14 shooting), three rebounds, two assists and a steal as star guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (15 points) was held in check and Dillon Brooks (16 points) went 5-for-12 overall. Canada will face the United States in the World Cup’s third-place game on Sunday.

Austin Reaves, USA

The United States never seemed to be fully on track against Germany, but did make a late charge and Reaves was central to it. Down 10 midway through the fourth quarter, the U.S. cut the lead to three points twice, but couldn’t complete the rally. However, Reaves was strong down the stretch, finishing with 10 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter to help try and stir the comeback bid. He had the final points for the U.S., which will finish no worse than fourth at the 2023 FIBA World Cup.