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Canada FIBA World Cup review: Canada wins first medal with victory over USA

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored seven of his 31 points in overtime and Dillon Brooks scored a team-high 39 points as Canada upset the United States, 127-118, to win the bronze medal at the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup in Manila, Philippines.

Bronze medal and Olympics for Canada

The Canadian team came into their bronze medal game against the United States having already produced a historic performance. With a top-2 finish amongst teams from the Americas, Canada qualified for the 2024 Paris Summer Olympic Games, the first time the men’s basketball team has done so since 2000.

Canada reached the World Cup quarterfinals for the first time since 1994. With a 100-89 victory over Slovenia, Canada clinched their best ever finish at the World Cup, surpassing sixth-place finishes in 1978 and 1982.

Despite losing to Serbia, 95-86, in the semifinals, Canada’s win over the Americans gave the men’s basketball team their first medal since another bronze, at the 1936 Berlin Summer Olympic Games, and their first ever medal at the World Cup.

With the overtime victory over the USA, Canada also improved to 2-21 all-time against the Americans. The tournament was a major step forward in the country’s standing in international men’s basketball.

Canada’s top performers

Canada featured several strong performances throughout the tournament, including a couple of standouts in Gilgeou-Alexander and Brooks. Below is a list of Canada’s top performers at the World Cup.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

Gilgeous-Alexander was on fire throughout the World Cup. He led Canada in scoring (24.5 ppg), rebounding (6.4 rpg), assists (6.4 ag) and steals (1.6 spg) and was named to the World Cup’s All Star Five.

SGA had 12 assists and six rebounds to go with his 31 points in the bronze medal game against the USA. He also had 15 points and nine assists in the semifinal loss to Serbia.

Gilgeous-Alexander started off strong with 27 points, 13 rebounds and six assists in Canada’s 95-65 thumping of Group H favorite France.

He added 27 points against Latvia to clinch the group, 23 in a tough second round loss to Brazil, and 30 points, four rebounds and seven assists in a thrilling 88-85 win over defending World Cup champion Spain.

Dillon Brooks

Brooks closed his memorable World Cup with a performance for the ages. He scored 39 points and dished out five assists in the bronze medal game and had five key points in the overtime period.

According to the Olympics website, Brooks’ 39 points were the most by a player in a medal-winning game in World Cup history. It also set a Canada record for most points by a Canadian in a World Cup game. He also had 16 points in the semifinal loss to Serbia.

The small forward, who joined the Houston Rockets this offseason, was brought to the World Cup to be a defensive presence for Canada. He did just that, as Brooks was named the Defensive Player of the World Cup. Brooks finished with 15.1 points, 2.6 assists and 1.3 steals a game.

RJ Barrett

The New York Knicks forward closed his 2023 World Cup on a strong note, scoring 23 points in both the semifinal loss to Serbia (team-high) and the bronze medal win over the USA. Barrett, who had a key 3-pointer in the overtime period, also had seven rebounds. 

He finished second to Gilgeous-Alexander at the World Cup with 16.8 points and five rebounds a game.

Kelly Olynyk

The 10-year NBA veteran and current Utah Jazz center provided Canada with a consistent presence inside throughout the tournament. He closed out his eight-game run with 11 points and four rebounds in the win over the US. 

Olynyk finished second to Gilgeous-Alexander with 2.9 assists per game to go with 10.9 points and 4.6 rebounds.

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