Shai Gilgeous-Alexander recorded game-highs of 27 points and 13 rebounds as Canada defeated France 95-65 to open Group H pool play at the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup in Jakarta, Indonesia.
It should come as no surprise that Gilgeous-Alexander’s star is already shining bright at the FIBA Basketball World Cup.
He averaged 31 points a game for the Oklahoma City Thunder last season and was dominant in pre-tournament contests with Canada around Europe.
In addition to his double-double, Gilgeous-Alexander’s six assists led the team.
Gilgeous-Alexander was one of four Canada players to reach double figures in points.
Utah Jazz’s Kelly Olynk scored 18, Houston Rockets’ Dillon Brooks had 12 and the Minnesota Timberwolves’ Nickeil Alexander-Walker added 12 on 4-of-8 shooting from beyond the arc.
RJ Barrett had six rebounds and five assists as well.
The result was surprising considering France were Group H favourites coming into the tournament after Jamal Murray decided not to play for Canada.
The game was tight through the first half, with Canada clinging to a three-point lead at the break, before they outscored France 25-8 in the third period to pull away.
The New York Knicks’ Evan Fournier led France with 21 points, but only two of those came in the second half.
Three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert - Alexander-Walker’s team-mate in Minnesota - had no help inside or on the perimeter in the second half.
The loss was the French team’s worst at the World Cup since a 36-point defeat to Yugoslavia in 1963, with France having won the Bronze Medal at both the 2014 and 2019 FIBA World Cups.
Following Murray’s decision not to play in the tournament, France became Group H favourites, but that has all changed following this result and Canada are now -2500 to win the group.
They have also moved up the ladder in terms of going all the way and winning the World Cup, overtaking France and Australia. Now listed at +400, Canada only trail USA (-125) right now.
Canada are already poised to obliterate their best performance at the FIBA World Cup.
They finished sixth in both 1978 and 1982, but this could be the first Canada team to medal in basketball since the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin.
Up next for Canada is Lebanon, who lost 109-70 to Latvia in the other Group H pool play game.