Canada win bronze

MANILA (Philippines) РThe United States and Canada played an incredible game in front of 10,666 fans in the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila. The Third Place Game went to overtime for the first time since 1990, and it finished with a 127-118 win for Canada. While Canada picked up their biggest success in international basketball and won a medal for the first time in FIBA Basketball World Cup history, the United States failed to reach the podium in consecutive World Cup events for the first time since 1963, 1967 and 1970. It looked like the game was done and dusted when Shai Gilgeous-Alexander made his trademark pull up from the midrange, and Dillon Brooks added a pair of free throws to make it a four-point Canada lead with just seconds left to play in the fourth quarter. But Mikal Bridges had a trick up his sleeve. An unreal move from the free throw line, making the first, intentionally missing the second only to grab his own rebound and knock down a three-pointer from the corner to tie it at 111-111 with just 0.6 left to play in the fourth.

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“Coach told me to miss the second one. I tried to miss it to the right, that’s where you want the ball in situations like that and I just read and reacted. I knew it was low time so I just went and shot it,” Bridges explained after the game. Kelly Olynyk had the final shot for Canada, a long three-pointer which looked on line… but bounced out, sending the game to overtime. That’s where SGA took over once again, with a little bit of help from Dillon Brooks. Shai’s back-to-back buckets led to Brooks scoring on consecutive possessions, and Canada took a 121-115 lead to the final two minutes of overtime. And that was too much. Even for Mikal Bridges.

Dillon Brooks usually hears boos whenever he enters the court or has the ball in his hands, but this time around, his unreal first half turned even the die-hard LA Lakers fans in the Philippines to become his fans. Brooks even heard MVP chants in this one, finishing with 39 points on 7-of-8 shooting from beyond the arc, and had a helping hand in Gilgeous-Alexander who collected 31 points, 12 assists and 6 rebounds. “I’m really proud of Dillon. This is how it looks when they let Dillon play. It’s not just on the defensive end that he’s the best perimeter defender in the World Cup, offensively he’s been extremely efficient. Not just in this game,” coach Jordi Fernandez praised his shooting guard.

Canada will climb the podium for the first time ever. They needed some hardware to support the software which suggested they have the talent base like few others in the entire world. With a medal in 2023, look for them to be even more motivated in Paris 2024. Same goes for the United States. They were also involved in the last overtime Third Place Game, when they edged out Puerto Rico in 1990, but it wasn’t to be in 2023. Anthony Edwards signed off with 24 points.

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