Canada fly over Slovenia to reach the Semi-Finals for the first time

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MANILA (Philippines) – There were 18 lead changes in the first half alone, but Canada ended on top in the extraordinary Quarter-Finals matchup with Slovenia, 100-89 at the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 in front of a sell-out crowd in Manila.Canada will now face Serbia in the Semi-Finals in the Mall of Asia Arena, while Slovenia move to Classification Games 5-8.

Canada and Slovenia played one of the best halves in World Cup history, both reaching 50 points after 20 minutes in a high paced game that saw both teams just go full small-ball, without a single big on the court, to avoid the matchup hunting that Luka Doncic and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander have been doing from tip-off on.                                            Whatever coach Jordi Fernandez told his men in the locker room, he should do it more often because Canada switched from sixth to seventh gear after the break. RJ Barrett was outstanding with 13 points in the third quarter, and Dillon Brooks knocked down a big three-pointer to make it a seven-point game early in the second half. Of course he celebrated it as loud as he could, after the not-so-warm welcome he received entering the court.                The lead ballooned to 10 points with five minutes left in the third, and Slovenia could not get back into the game over the remaining 15 minutes, mostly because of Canada’s stellar defense in the second half.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was at his usual efficient level, scoring 31 points on 8-of-12 shooting, while also getting 10 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals. Make that back-to-back 30-point games for the Canada superstar, since he had 30 against Spain to send Canada to the Quarter-Finals. Everybody knew the two frontrunners in the MVP race will show up and put on a show. The question was how the supporting cast would react, and Canada were simply better, with Barrett (24 points), Brooks (14 points) and Nickeil Alexander-Walker (14 points) all getting into double digits. Honorable mention goes to Luguentz Dort with 8 points and physical defense on Luka Doncic. Canada reached their first Semi-Final in World Cup history, while Slovenia have to wait for such achievement for at least another four years. Doncic had 26 points in 29 minutes before picking up his second technical with seven minutes left in the game, but Klemen Prepelic was the only one who followed his lead, finishing with 22 points.

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