By Neil Jerome Morales
MANILA (Reuters) - Germany won their first-ever FIBA Basketball World Cup title by beating undermanned Serbia 83-77 in a slugfest of the two European powerhouses on Sunday in Manila.
Germany leaned on a 22-10 surge in the third quarter, orchestrated by brothers Franz and Moritz Wagner, to build a cushion and win the World Cup's first all-European final since 2006.
The tournament most valuable player Dennis Schroder carried Germany with a game-high 28 points, way above his average of 17.9 points per game, and added two rebounds and two assists.
"This is an unbelievable group... coach did a great job bringing us together," Schroder told a press conference. "Our defence and how we play as a basketball team is just special."
Germany, who won all eight tournament games, became the first team since 2006 to win a FIBA World Cup crown while debuting in the final.
Serbia absorbed another heartbreak after losing to the United States 129-92 in the 2014 final, but finished better than their quarter-final exit in 2019.
The two teams were tied at 47 by halftime but Germany built up a 12-point lead late in the third quarter and never looked back.
Marko Guduric converted two free throws, cutting Germany's lead to two, 79-77, with 39.5 ticks to go in the final frame. But a costly turnover and missed three-pointers prevented Serbia's comeback.
Serbia's Ognjen Dobric was carried off the floor with an ankle injury in the first quarter. Their power forward, Borisa Simanic, underwent surgery in Manila to remove a kidney after taking a blow to his midsection against South Sudan in a preliminary match.
Earlier, Canada bagged their first World Cup podium finish at the expense of short-handed United States 127-118 in overtime in a riveting, record-setting bronze-medal game.
Hot-shooting Dillon Brooks, who will play for the Houston Rockets next season, powered the Canadians with his tournament-high 39 points, hitting seven of eight three-pointers. It was the most points scored by a player in a medal-winning game in tournament history.
Brooks earned MVP chants from the crowd with his all-time performance, a far cry from the loud boos in Canada's previous games.
Team USA's NBA players Paolo Banchero, Jaren Jackson Jr, and Brandon Ingram were sidelined due to illness. The team's leading scorer, Anthony Edwards of the Minnesota Timberwolves, recorded 24 points, five rebounds and three assists.
Canada capitalised on a characteristically lethargic U.S. start to take a 34-21 lead in the first quarter, before Team USA fought back and forced an overtime at 111 apiece.
Despite the defeat, the United States finished better than their seventh spot in 2019, their worst-ever major international tournament result. The U.S. have won the tournament a record five times.
The two tightly-fought games on Sunday closed the 19th edition of FIBA's flagship event, co-hosted by the Philippines, Indonesia and Japan, on a high note.
A record crowd of 38,115 watched the opening game of basketball-obsessed Philippines against the Dominican Republic on Aug. 25 in the world's largest indoor arena, north of the capital Manila. That beat the previous record of 32,616 who watched the U.S.-Russia final at the 1994 World Cup in Toronto, Canada.
Qatar will host the 2027 World Cup.
(This story has been refiled to correct a typo in paragraph 9)
(Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales, editing by Christian Radnedge and Clare Fallon)