Austin Reaves warned his United States team-mates on Thursday that national pride will transform Germany’s players when they meet in the Basketball World Cup semi-finals.
Reaves is set to square off against former Los Angeles Lakers team-mate Dennis Schroder when the United States and Germany meet in Manila on Friday with a place in the final up for grabs.
Reaves expects Schroder to be a different player once he puts on his national team jersey and warned that he has a gift for “instilling confidence in others”.
“The passion that he has for basketball, when it comes to the Olympics, the World Cup, stuff like that it, intensifies by 10, just because he’s so passionate about where he comes from,” said Reaves.
Germany are the only unbeaten team left at the World Cup and booked their place in the semi-finals with a narrow win over Latvia on Wednesday.
Schroder had a night to forget, scoring only four of his 26 field-goal attempts in what he called “probably the worst game I ever played in my career”.
The Americans are still wary of the threat that Schroder poses, and US captain Jalen Brunson said the Germany playmaker “can do whatever he wants on the court in any given moment”.
“He has those gifts,” said Brunson.
“We just have to be locked in defensively. While he is a lot of what they do, he’s not all of what they do.”
The United States also have plenty of talent at their disposal and showed it in their 100-63 quarter-final demolition of Italy on Tuesday.
Head coach Steve Kerr is ready to unleash his full breadth of attacking talent against the Germans and said “they don’t need a speech” before the game.
“I think the main job of our staff right now is to give them a blueprint,” said Kerr.
“Everything that we’ve done in preparation over the last five-and-a-half weeks is to get to this point.
“Show them what they need to do, let them be themselves — that’s the plan.”
Kerr called shooting guard Anthony Edwards — the Americans’ top scorer at the tournament — “one of the most talented players on Earth”.
Kerr has been rewarded with impressive performances throughout his squad, and power forward Paolo Banchero said the players have been “counting down the days” until the final.
“This is the peak of the tournament, this is winning time, the last two games,” said Banchero.