13 Moritz Wagner (GER), 9 Franz Wagner (GER)
Jeff Taylor's Eurovision
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Can Wagner bros do for Germany what the Gasols did for Spain?

VALENCIA (Jeff Taylor's Eurovision) - It had happened before, a one-two fraternal punch that helped a country win the FIBA Basketball World Cup.

The Gasols, Pau and Marc, did it in 2006 in Japan, as Spain lifted the Naismith Trophy for the first time.

The Wagners did it this time in 2023.

On September 10 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, Germany's Moritz and Franz  breathed the rarefied air as brothers who played for the same team to win a world title.

Germany had brothers lift the FIFA World Cup Trophy in 1954, when the legendary Fritz and Ottmar were players in the team that stunned Hungary in the Final in Bern, 3-2.

They made a movie about it, called The Miracle of Bern, with actor Knut Hartwig playing the part of Fritz and Simon Verhoeven taking on the role of Ottmar.

There's no need for another film after this triumph as there's already an excellent six-part series the Deutscher Basketball Bund (DBB) has put out. The German basketball federation went behind the scenes and introduced us to the coaches, physios, and players.


The series shows how special, and incredible this summer was for coach Gordie Herbert and Germany.

It was rewarding for Franz, although there was some frustration, too. He played in Germany's opener against Japan but an injury kept him out of their next four games.

He returned for the last three games and was instrumental for Germany' in their wins over Latvia in the Quarter-Final, USA in the Semi-Final, and Serbia in the title game. When Germany needed a bucket, Franz provided it.

Moritz, the player that opponents hate to go up against because he competes every second on the court, especially on defense and on the boards, had his share of highlight-reel plays, too.

Germany captain Dennis Schroder, the MVP of the World Cup, said of the brothers in Sportschau: "They have different characters. Moritz is more of a loud one, the motivator. Franz has a lot of qualities on the court. Both are cool guys - a great family." 

Moritz was clearly the life of the party. He keeps everyone loose.


So what's it like having a brother as a teammate in a World Cup-winning team?

"I'm so sick of answering questions about my brother," Moritz said immediately after Germany's win over Serbia in the Final, before adding: "I'm just kidding."

The parents of Moritz and Franz, Axel Schultz and Beate Wagner, were Germany's No. 1 fans in Manila.

"My mom cried," Moritz said. "It's so cool to share that with my family. We're so privileged. Sometimes I don't really realize that this is the life I'm living."

When it comes to his digs, Moritz doesn't spare his parents, either.

In a feature about the Wagners that went online during the World Cup in Sportschau, he said of Axel and Beate being at the games: "You can't miss them, as loud as they are."


Last year, when Germany hosted the FIBA EuroBasket in Berlin, Moritz was hurt and couldn't play. Franz did suit up for the national team and they finished third.

This year was much better.

"Super special experience," Franz said at his media day with the Orlando Magic, where he and Moritz are also teammates.

"Still hasn’t really registered, honestly. Really cool. We had a really cool vibe going as a group and made special relationships, and that part, honestly, is more important to me.

"I think I learned a lot playing in really important games. Not everything is going to go your way, but how do you still respond and win those close games - I think that was a really important experience for me."

Pau and Marc lived it with Spain. And it's accurate to say winning that world title in Japan was a life-changing experience for both. It also ignited Spain on an incredible run, one that saw the country win, at last count, four EuroBaskets (2009, 2011, 2015, and 2022) and the 2019 World Cup. Pau was the MVP of the 2006 event whereas the younger Marc was a late addition to the team but played a vital role off the bench.

What's important for Franz and Moritz, they say, is what the success is going to do for Germany.

"This is really cool for German basketball in general," Moritz said. "It's not about me, it's about us. In the grand scheme of things, this means a lot for the German basketball culture."

Could it be that we're about to see a new team from Europe, Germany, dominate the way Spain has?

Moritz just wants to live in the moment. 

"Having been a part of something that's bigger than yourself is so valuable and so awesome that I'm just grateful," he said.

Jeff Taylor

FIBA's columnists write on a wide range of topics relating to basketball that are of interest to them. The opinions they express are their own and in no way reflect those of FIBA.

FIBA takes no responsibility and gives no guarantees, warranties or representations, implied or otherwise, for the content or accuracy of the content and opinion expressed in the above article. 

Jeff Taylor

Jeff Taylor

Jeff Taylor, a North Carolina native and UNC Chapel Hill graduate, has been a journalist since 1990. He started covering international basketball after moving to Europe in 1996. Jeff provides insight and opinion every week about players and teams on the old continent that are causing a buzz.