The Canadian basketball team will play this Sunday (10:30 a.m.) against the United States in the consolation final of the men’s World Cup, which will be held in the Philippines, Japan and Indonesia, where winning the bronze medal would be historic for their team. of the maple leaf.
It is not for nothing that Canada has already broken its record at the Men’s World Cup in this edition. Never before had the national team, which gave birth to James Naismith, the inventor of basketball in 1891, come this far. The team, now coached by Spaniard Jordi Fernández, was one of the tournament’s sensations and left the still champions in the gutter.
In this final game of the second group stage, reminiscent of the round of 16 because it was win or go home, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander shone again in Canada’s victory (85-88) against Spain. His 30 points, seven assists and 36 rating credits were a nightmare for the team defending the title.
But the Oklahoma City Thunder point guard had another ace up his sleeve heading into the quarterfinals, scoring 31 points along with 10 rebounds and 40 PIR credits in his team’s 100-89 win over Slovenia. In addition, he outshone Luka Doncic in tackles to carry a lot of weight in the tournament MVP vote.
Winning this award will depend on whether he takes on this main role again or, on the contrary, whether he will be watched in the same way as he was in the defeat (95:86) in the semi-final against Serbia. His card of 15 points, nine assists and 22 rating credits, considerable for any other player, was not enough for what Gilgeous-Alexander showed.
His performances last season in the NBA precede him, so the US team will be paying close attention to every game the Thunder point guard takes charge of. If the American players can stop him and also minimize RJ Barrett, much of their mission will be accomplished.
And this mission is none other than to rehabilitate from the defeat (111-113) in the semifinals against Germany. Steve Kerr’s protégés didn’t speculate and attacked hard; Gone are the days when the USA sent children to FIBA competitions. But in the final minutes a certain lack of ingenuity was noticeable against a rival at mercy.
An almost perfect game from Dennis Schröder, Franz Wagner, Daniel Theis and Co. prevented a US team from winning the title, which was also unable to win it at the 2019 World Cup. And stringing together two world titles without gold is something that hurts the NBA, which had taken this appointment seriously with Steve Kerr and his illustrious assistants on the bench.
With no gold and silver in the final between Germany and Serbia, this battle for bronze will calibrate North America’s thermometer a year before the Paris Olympics and complete the ranks of honor after Slovenia finished seventh against Italy (85-89) and Latvia finished in fifth place, beating Lithuania (98-63).