Down go the champs: Canada knock out Spain in thriller

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JAKARTA (Indonesia) – Canada were up to the task as they successfully knocked off defending champions Spain, 88-85, in their final Second Round matchup at the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023. This is the first time Spain miss the World Cup Quarter-Finals since 1994. Meanwhile, Canada are assured of a spot in the top 8 for the first time also since 1994. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Dillon Brooks combined for 52 points for the victors. Willy Hernangomez paced Spain with 25 points and 6 rebounds. This was Brooks’ best game of the tournament so far as he hit 11 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter.

RJ Barrett was called for his fifth foul with 1:32 left. Willy Hernangomez then hit a couple of free throws for Spain’s last taste of the lead, 80-77. After that, however, it was all Canada. Dillon Brooks tied it up with a triple, Gilgeous-Alexander hit a fadeaway to give Canada an 82-80 lead, and Lu Dort had a huge steal with 26 seconds left to help seal the momentous win. Gilgeous-Alexander hit 6-of-6 free throws in the final 21 seconds to keep any Spanish comeback efforts at bay. As good as Brooks was, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander continued to be the main man for Canada. He came up big with the go-ahead basket in the dying minutes and hit the marginal free throws to peg the final score. Gilgeous-Alexander finished with 30 points, 7 assists, 4 rebounds and 3 steals. He also hit 14-of-16 free throws.

Canada trailed for most of the game, but they came up big when it mattered the most. Coach Jordi Fernandez’s squad outscored the defending champions, 27-12, in the final period to turn the tables and book their tickets to Manila for the Quarter-Finals. Canada’s win propels them to first place in Group P and into the Quarter-Finals with an intriguing matchup with Slovenia. The loss sinks Spain’s hopes to repeat as champions.

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