Earlier in the tournament, Dillon Brooks was the target of boos. By Sunday, those derisive sounds had transformed into chants calling for his selection as Most Valuable Player. And he thanked his denigrators after a sparkling performance.
Led by a spectacular performance from Brooks, Canada defeated the United States 127-118 in overtime in the bronze medal match at the Basketball World Cup on Sunday in Manila.
This is the first time that Canada’s men’s team has won a medal at this competition. It is also the first medal in men’s basketball for Canada at the World Cup or Olympic Games since 1936 when the country won silver at the Berlin Games.
Canada achieved the feat thanks to the performance of Brooks and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who amassed 39 and 31 points, respectively. Brooks notably converted seven shots from the three-point zone, in eight attempts.
Brooks’ 39 points set a record for most points by a Canadian in a World Cup match. Carl Ridd had held the old mark of 37 points since 1954.
“I’m just happy to wear this jersey,” said Brooks, a player from Mississauga, when asked about his performance and the game.
“I missed qualifying matches and windows, and I’m just happy to be here with my teammates […] and to represent my country, for the Canadians there. »
Jordi Fernandez, Canada’s head coach, wasted no time singing Brooks’ praises.
“Really proud of Dillon. This is what it looks like when they let Dillon Brooks play. And it’s not just in the defensive zone. With Lu (Montreal’s Luguentz Dort), he is the best peripheral defensive player at the World Cup,” Fernandez said.
Brooks, a forward with the Houston Rockets in the NBA, was also voted the tournament’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player.
As for Gilgeous-Alexander, a guard with the Oklahoma City Thunder, he was named to the all-star team thanks, among other things, to averages of 24.5 points, 6.4 rebounds and 6, 4 assists per game.
The Canadians achieved their feat despite a late fourth quarter that could have deflated them.
There were 4.2 seconds left in the period and Canada led 111-107 when Mikal Bridges was awarded two free throws for the United States.
After making the first one, he intentionally missed the second, hoping to force an offensive rebound.
The strategy worked. Bridges picked up the loose ball himself, headed to the corner of the court and made his three-pointer with 0.6 seconds left, making it 111-111.
Despite little time remaining on the clock, Canada came close to winning in regulation on a three-point attempt from Kelly Olynyk that hit the back of the hoop.
However, Gilgeous-Alexander took matters into his own hands during overtime. In less than two minutes of play, he helped Canada build a 118-112 lead by scoring all seven of his points during this sequence.
The Canadians, who had let two good leads slip away earlier in the match, were able to protect this one.
This triumph crowns a quality tournament for Canada, which had never reached the final four at the Men’s World Cup.
Jordi Fernandez’s team notably defeated Spain, number one in the world, during the second round. This triumph assured Canada a place at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.
“This medal means a lot to the guys, the program, the board, the country, everyone, the coaches,” said Fernandez, an assistant coach with the Sacramento Kings.
“I think an accomplishment like that, you don’t know what it is until you accomplish it. »
Anthony Edwards had 24 points, one more than Austin Reaves for the American team, which was without Jaren Jackson Jr. and reserves Brandon Ingram and Paolo Banchero due to illness.
Later Sunday, Germany collected its first World Cup gold medal in its history with an 83-77 victory over Serbia.
On Friday, the Serbs beat Canada in the semi-final.
Incisive start to the match
Unlike their semi-final duel, Canada started the match with confidence and it took them less than 25 seconds, courtesy of Brooks, to score the first two points of the match.
Less than a minute later, Brooks and Dort added three-pointers and Canada already led by eight points.
Dort finished the game with 11 points, including eight in the first quarter.
Canada even held a lead of 13 points with just under two minutes remaining in the first quarter.
But from that moment on, the Americans began to chip away at their lead. They took the lead for the first time, 38-36, when Cameron Johnson hit a shot from the three-point zone with 7:46 left in the second period.
From then on, the two clubs exchanged the lead five times, but Canada was able to retreat to the locker room at halftime with a 58-56 lead, helped by two consecutive successes from Brooks from the three-point zone.
On the restart, Brooks picked up where he left off.
He first scored the first two points of the third quarter, before causing a turnover that contributed to a two-point basket by Gilgeous-Alexander, all within the first minute of play of the period.
Gilgeous-Alexander also proved to be Canada’s leader during a productive third quarter at the end of which the Canadian delegation led 91-82.
Canada increased its lead to 94-84 early in the fourth quarter when Olynyk completed a three-point play with a free throw. However, two minutes later, the United States tied the score with an unanswered 10-point surge.
Everything was now ready for the end of the fourth quarter which would be full of twists and turns.