In a dramatic showdown under the spotlight of the world, Canada’s ‘Most Valuable Villain’ summoned his inner heroism against the formidable Team USA.
As the tension reached its zenith, Dillon Brooks, a man who had metamorphosed from being the target of jeers to the conductor of cheers, emerged as the catalyst for the Road Warriors.
With the bronze medal tantalizingly within reach, he orchestrated a breathtaking spectacle, leading his team to an epic 127-118 overtime triumph against A nine-man Team USA.
This climactic clash unfolded as the third-place match of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023, staged at the electrifying SM Mall of Asia Arena.
Brooks finished with 39 points, the most ever for a player in a medal-winning game, along with five assists, four rebounds, and two blocks for Canada, while Shai Gilgeous-Alexander delivered 31 points, 12 assists, and six boards in the win.
“I’m really proud of Dillon [Brooks]; this is what it looks like when they let Dillon Brooks play. It’s not just on the defensive end, where he’s the best, along with Lu [Dort], the best perimeter defenders in the world,” said Canada head coach Jordi Fernandez.
RJ Barrett added 23 points and seven boards, while Lu Dort chipped in 11 markers and six rebounds in the victory that helped the Road Warriors secure their first-ever podium finish on the world stage.
The Canadians were actually ahead 111-107 in regulation, but Mikal Bridges grabbed the rebound after his missed free throw and hit a corner three that tied the game with 0.6 seconds remaining.
“What these guys did here today obviously was not perfect; we have to learn how to box out on free throws, but it’s good to learn when you win. This team was amazing. It’s the beginning of something that’s going to last for a long time,” added Fernandez.
Team USA played with only nine players and missed the services of Brandon Ingram, Jarren Jackson Jr., and Paolo Banchero, who were all out due to illness.
This is the first time since 1963-1970 that the Americans have failed to bring home a medal in back-to-back FIBA World Cups.
Team USA also allowed a total of 127 points in the match, the most ever allowed by the team in any FIBA World Cup game. Additionally, this is the only time that the basketball powerhouse has allowed more than 100 points in back-to-back games.
Canada 127 – Brooks 39, Gilgeous-Alexander 31, Barrett 23, Dort 11, Olynyk 11, Alexander-Walker 5, Powell 4, Ejim 3, Edey 0, Scrubb 0.
USA 118 – Edwards 24, Reaves 23, Bridges 19, Portis Jr. 14, Brunson 13, Hart 10, Kessler 6, Haliburton 6, Johnson 3.
Quarterscores: 34-25; 58-56; 91-82; 111-111; 127-118