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September 11, 2023
Trish Arab

FIBA World Cup - Team Canada Stuns US to Win Bronze (2 minute read)

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Canada won its first-ever medal at the FIBA Men's Basketball World Cup with a 127-118 overtime win over the U.S. in the bronze-medal game on Sunday.

In a nail-biting, sitting at the edge of your seat game, which almost went the other way thanks to Tidal League family member and team U.S. player Mikal Bridges (whose mom Tyneeha co-hosts our Tipping the Scales podcast).  

Bridges was fouled with four seconds left and made the first shot, missed the second, got the rebound and hit a three with 0.6 seconds left.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander put Canada ahead by six with a personal 7-1 run.  RJ Barrett later put Canada up 124-115 with a straightaway three with 44 seconds left to seal it.  Canada held the U.S. to only one field goal in overtime.

Another World Cup is over and once again the US are left to wonder where they went wrong if they hope to regroup for the Paris Games and make a fifth consecutive Olympic gold medal a reality.

Dillon Brooks went from zero to hero scoring 39 points and setting a Canadian single-game scoring record for most points in a FIBA World Cup, topping Carl Ridd's 37 back in 1954.  

He went 7-of-8 from the three-point range and 12-of-18 overall from the field.

"Just happy to be able to put this jersey on," he said.  "I missed a couple of qualifiers and windows, and I'm just happy to be here with my teammates and represent my country for the Canadians out there."

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander finished with 31 points, six rebounds, and a game-high 12 assists for Canada, with RJ Barrett adding another 23 points and seven rebounds.

Gilgeous-Alexander was named a tournament all-star after the Oklahoma City Thunder guard averaged 24.5 points, 6.4 rebounds, 6.4 assists, and 1.6 steals per game.

This marked the first real test of leadership from new Head Coach Jordi Fernandez, a name that has now endeared itself in all Canadian hearts.  

Fernandez, an assistant coach with the Sacramento Kings, applauded his team for their efforts all the way back to training camp in August. "This team was amazing, special," said Fernandez, who took over the job in June from (my boyfriend) Nick Nurse (just making sure y'all are still paying attention).

"It's the beginning of something that is gonna last for a long time, and all 12 guys came in and worked every single day since Aug. 1, and they built the identity that we shown resiliency.
"I think we're here showing that we can do great things."

The win is the crown jewel on a historic run through the tournament for the 15th-ranked team. Canada made it to the tournament's second round for the first time since 1998 and placed first in the group phase for the first time ever.

Canada's win over top-ranked defending champion Spain in the second round earned its qualification for the Paris 2024 Games, ending an Olympic drought dating back to 2000.  It was also the first time since 1994 that Canada advanced to the quarterfinals.

The Canadians' semifinal loss to sixth-ranked Serbia on Friday was their first-ever appearance in the final four.

Now Fernandez, team Canada and our entire country set our sights on Paris 2024 and the real possibility of Olympic success.