Canada’s last appearance on the podium at a major senior basketball tournament was in 1986, with a bronze at the Women’s World Cup.
You have to go back 50 years to the 1936 Olympics to find the men’s team’s last medal: silver after a 19-8 loss to the United States in a storm in Nazi Germany.
But with one more win at the 2023 Men’s World Cup, those droughts will end.
Canada beat Slovenia 100-89 in the quarterfinals in Manila on Wednesday, guaranteeing it will play for a medal for the first time at this tournament. The Canadians next face Serbia, who crushed Lithuania on Tuesday, with a championship spot on the line on Friday.
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The other semifinal pits the United States against Germany, which beat Latvia 81-79 earlier on Wednesday.
“I think we’re showing that we’re such a hard-working team that when we come together and do the right things and listen to what the coach tells us to do, we can be special,” said RJ Barrett, who was second on the team with 24 points.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, of Hamilton, Ontario, once again led a powerful Canadian scoring attack with 31 points, along with 10 rebounds and a team-high four assists.
Along with Barrett, from Mississauga, Ontario, Gilgeous-Alexander staged another third-quarter explosion for Canada, turning a halftime tie into a 16-point lead midway through the quarter to take control of the game as Slovenia, led by the nba. Superstar Luka Doncic seemed to turn his attention to the referees.
But as in previous games, Canada kept their eyes on the prize as they stormed out of halftime, just as they did in their victories over France, Latvia and Spain in the early rounds of the tournament in Indonesia.
“It’s not just Shai… I think our guys today like Dillon.” [Brooks], his role today, he did at a high level. RJ, Kelly [Olynyk]. At the end of the day, as the Arkells say, this team is relentless, we showed it in Jakarta and we’re showing it here as well,” Canadian coach Jordi Fernandez said.
Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Gilgeous-Alexander’s cousin, and Brooks each added 14 points.
After sparking Canada’s thrilling three-point victory over Spain, Brooks turned in his second straight dominant defensive performance, hounding Doncic to an eight-for-20 shooting night.
“Dillon played very well. He was very physical, as always. [is]. I know a lot of people don’t like him, but I respect him for what he does and he does it very well,” Doncic said.
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Brooks, Doncic ejected
Doncic still led his team with 26 points and five assists, but he was ejected less than a minute after Brooks in the fourth quarter. Brooks, a native of Mississauga, Ontario, was handed a disqualifying foul before Doncic’s incessant arguing led to him receiving his second technical foul as well.
Doncic, whose team went 8-1 after he left the game, later said the officials were “unfair.”
Brooks, who has a reputation as a villain in the NBA, greeted his fellow Canadians in the locker room after the game by throwing punches into the air with boxing gloves on his hands.
Still, Slovenia coach Aleksander Sekulić said that the Canadian team is the complete package.
“Canada has a great team… They have everything they need to go all the way. I think they can match the United States, but we’ll see.”
With the loss, Slovenia will be relegated to a last-chance qualifying tournament for the 2024 Paris Olympics, while Germany and Serbia clinch the European spots along with hosts France.
Canada already booked its Olympic place with the victory over Spain.
Perhaps, when they land in France next summer, the Canadians will look to add to their growing collection of medals.