The two clear favorites of group E faced off in the 2nd game of the group stage. Germany beat Japan convincingly in their 1st game (81-63) and Australia also handled business by winning against Finland (98-72). The matchup would not only determine the likely winner of this group but also have implications on the 2nd round group stage, where the results from the first group stage (all 3 games) are taken into the 2nd round. So potentially going 3-0 without a loss into round 2 makes a difference in comparison to going 2-1 and carrying a loss over.
The game was a close and hard fought battle with a slim edge for Germany (86-83), that came down to the final plays. Germany had the better start, building their largest lead of 11 points early (16-5, mid 1st). Australia would regain the lead late in the 3rd Qtr (65-59) but a 13-1 run for the Germans saw them back in front (72-66) with 8 minutes to play.
The 4th quarter was a back and forth battle and tied at 81 it was a driving layup from Dennis Schröder that saw Germany take a 2pt lead. That was followed by Australia´s Josh Giddey going just 1-2 at the foul line to make it 82-83. Back to back turnovers from Schröder and Patty Mills left 4 seconds on the clock where Germany found Maodo Lo for a layup from the inbounds play to give them a 3 pt lead. Australia´s final half-court 3-pointer, to send it to overtime by Josh Giddey, missed the target to end the game giving Germany the 86-83 win.
What we saw from Germany:
What we saw from Australia:
Germany took care of business in their last group game against Finland, winning 101-75 and moved into the 2nd group stage undefeated at 3-0. The Germans now face Slovenia (3-0 record) with All-NBA 1st Teamer Luka Doncic and Georgia (2-1 record), looking to secure one of the top two spots.
Australia faced an all or nothing game against Japan and handled it well, winning 109-89 to advance with a 2-1 record. Australia also faces Georgia and Slovenia and will look to secure one of the top 2 spots.
This 2nd group stage will be interesting as Georgia will likely be overmatched against both Australia and Germany and might not win a game in the 2nd round. That leaves the matchups of Slovenia against Germany and Australia as the likely deciders in the group with only 2 of those 3 teams having a chance to advance to the quarterfinals and keeping their hopes for a medal alive. It will be an interesting 2nd round in Okinawa where the pressure and tension will surely rise as the competition intensifies.