Canada forward RJ Barrett, left, attempts a shot over Serbia guard Stefan Jovic during a Basketball World Cup semi final game in ManilaAP Photo/Aaron Favila
AP Photo/Aaron Favila

Canada falls in semifinal to Serbia at FIBA World Cup

Canada’s run for gold at the FIBA World Cup in Manila, Phillipines has come to an end at the hands of Serbia, by a final score of 95-86.

In a game where Canada led for only two minutes and 47 seconds of game time, Serbia controlled the matchup with a highly efficient offence, and defensive clinic on Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

Canada still has a shot at history however, as they will face the loser of Germany – U.S.A. on Sunday for a chance at their first ever FIBA World Cup medal.

Serbia set the tone early, starting the game with an 8-1 run.

Their motion offence became a challenge for Canada as the constant cutting and passing generated open looks and easy opportunities at the rim. Defensively, they boasted a deep pool of pesky guards, big wings, and anchor at centre in Nikola Milutinov.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander struggled to score early as Serbia’s point guard Aleksa Avramovic proved to be the star’s toughest matchup of the tournament.

SGA also faced foul trouble for the first time in the tournament, as he picked up his second foul six minutes and-a-half into the first. As SGA was forced to sit for the remainder of the quarter, Serbia went on a 13-2 run to take an eight-point lead.

SGA’s first bucket didn’t come until the 5:49 mark of the second.

R.J. Barrett was able to keep at Serbia close with his scoring. He nailed a three with 3:27 to go in the second to cut the lead to five.

That was as close as Canada would come in the first half, as they struggled to defend a Serbian side that shot a sizzling 64 per cent from the field.

Canada opened the second half with an increased sense of intensity as they forced Serbia into a series of turnovers. However, they were unable to convert on a series of chances in transition, and Serbia managed to hold on to a lead throughout the quarter.

As both Dillon Brooks and Kelly Olynyk picked up their fourth foul respectively, Serbia closed the third strongly to take a 12-point lead.

The lead grew to 17 in the early minutes of the fourth as Serbia continued to force turnovers and shoot lights out from the perimeter.

Bogdan Bogdanovic put the game to bed with a sweet euro step lay-up, and backbreaking step-back three in the fourth.

Serbia advances to the World Cup final for the first time since 2014. Their last gold came in 2002.

The No. 6-ranked FIBA squad shot 62 per cent from the field, and converted on nine of their 20 three-point attempts. They also outrebounded Canada by 11.

Canada was led by R.J. Barrett who finished with 23 points on 8/14 shooting. Dillon Brooks added 16 despite playing with foul trouble, and SGA had 15 points – well below his tournament average.

Canada will face the loser of Germany and U.S.A. on Sunday in the bronze medal match. They will look to earn their first ever medal at the FIBA World Cup.

Sunday will begin bright and early for Canadians watching from home, as tip-off will be at 4:30 a.m. EST.

Canada beats Slovenia to advance to semifinal round

It’s yet another milestone for Canada’s men’s basketball team at the FIBA World Cup. With a 100-89 win over Slovenia, Canada is off to the semifinal round for the first time in program history.

In what was billed as a matchup of the stars – Canada’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander versus Slovenia’s Luka Doncic – the two teams traded blows in a high-scoring first half, before SGA and Canada took control in the second.

Canada is now promised at least two more games in Manila, Philippines, as they will face Serbia for a chance to play in their first World Cup final.

The first half of the quarterfinal was a back-and-forth affair as Canada and Slovenia exchanged 17 lead changes.

Slovenia’s three-point shooting was described on the national broadcast by Dan Shulman as “preposterous,” and it was exactly that – they shot 69 per cent from beyond the arc (9/13) over the first 15 minutes of the game.

Luka Doncic led the way as expected for Slovenia, scoring 17 points on 5/12 shooting at the half.

Shai didn’t waste any time getting his offense going as he started 4/4 from the field.

He had 13 points in the first half on 5/7 shooting. His cousin, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, provided a spark off of the bench with 10 points.

Despite Slovenia’s hot shooting, Canada kept up and the game was tied at 50-50 at halftime.

Just like they did against France, Latvia, and Spain, Canada took control to open the second half.

As their defence tightened, and Slovenia’s three-point shooting regressed to the averages, Canada was able to build a double-digit lead thanks to buckets from SGA, Dillon Brooks, and R.J. Barrett.

Despite leading by as many as 16 in the quarter, Slovenia managed to cut into the lead to close the third thanks to a pair of step-back triples from Luka Doncic. Canada led 80-71 after three.

In a bizarre turn of events, Dillon Brooks was given his second technical foul and subsequently ejected after burying a three pointer at the 7:06 mark of the last quarter. About 30 seconds later, Luka Doncic was also given his second technical after disagreeing with a no-call on a shot he missed.

Slovenia responded with an 8-1 run after losing their star player to cut the lead to nine with 4:17 remaining in the game.

But even in the most pressure-filled moment, SGA appeared cool and confident. He gave Canada a much-needed bucket to get the lead above 10, and Canada never looked back.

SGA finished with 31 points on a remarkably efficient 8/12 from the field, as he sunk 14 of his 16 free-throw attempts. He also grabbed 10 rebounds, and had four assists.

R.J. Barrett had a big game, finishing with 24 points and nine boards. Nickeil Alexander-Walker added 14 big points, and so did Brooks, who was still in good spirits as he greeted his team following the win.

Canada will face Serbia in its first semi-final appearance at the FIBA World Cup in program history.

Serbia came off an impressive win against an undefeated Lithuania team in the quarterfinal, winning 87-68. The matchup against the No. 6-ranked FIBA team could be a preview of next year’s Olympics, as Serbia qualified for Paris 2024 with the quarterfinal win.

U.S.A. and Germany await in the other semifinal matchup.

Both the players and fans will have to rise to the occasion on Friday, as their matchup against Serbia will tip off at 4:45 a.m. EST.