Team Canada's basketball players pose with their bronze medalsAP Photo/Michael Conroy
AP Photo/Michael Conroy

Canada takes down U.S. to claim first ever FIBA World Cup medal with bronze

Canada has made history in Manila, Philippines with a 127-118 win in the bronze medal game at the FIBA World Cup.

On the back of a historic performance from Dillon Brooks, Canada takes down the world’s most decorated basketball nation – the United States – to earn the first ever medal World Cup medal for the men’s national team.

In a fast-paced, high-scoring affair, Canada survived a miraculous comeback by the U.S. in the dying seconds of regulation to force overtime, only to dominate the extra period and secure their medal.

Canada team members celebrate after the Basketball World Cup bronze medal game between the United States and Canada in Manila, Philippines, Sunday, Sept. 10, 2023. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

Dillon Brooks, playing against many of his National Basketball Association peers on the U.S., was the best player on the court. He finished with 39 points on 12/18 from the field, 7/8 from three, and five assists. His 39 points in the game breaks a near 70-year record for the most points a single game by a Canadian at the World Cup, which was set back in 1954.

Canada’s leader, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, finished with 31 points, 12 assists, and delivered a backbreaking three in overtime to help put the U.S. away.

It’s the highest placement ever at a FIBA World Cup in the program’s history. They finished sixth in 1978 and 1982.

The men’s national team came into the game with a 1-21 record all-time versus their neighbours from the south.

The U.S. has five FIBA World Cup gold medals to their name, and consistently fields a team full of high-caliber NBA players.

The U.S. came in with an identical record of 5-2, having lost in a semifinal thriller to Germany. They were without three players: Paolo Banchero, Jaren Jackson Jr., and Brandon Ingram, all due to illness.

It was Canada who came out of the gate with an 8-0 run to set the tone in a game that looked much different from other World Cup matchups.

The fast pace and lack of physicality on defence benefitted Canada early, as they took a double-digit lead on a Lu Dort three with 3:57 left in the quarter. They led by as much as 13 in the first, thanks to Dillon Brooks, R.J. Barrett, and Dort who all tallied eight points each.

The U.S. had a big response to open the second quarter, going on a 19-2 run to take a four-point lead.

Canada responded nicely however, thanks in large part to a Dillon Brooks masterclass in shooting. He was 5/5 from three in the first half, and had 21 points.

Canada shot 51 per cent from the field in the half and took a two-point lead into halftime.

SGA mainly distributed for his teammates in the first half, but started to rack up the buckets as the pace picked up. He carried the load offensively, and gave Canada an 11-point lead at the 1:12 mark on a tough jumper.

Canada led by nine heading into the fourth quarter.

The U.S. took back the momentum with a 12-3 run in the fourth to tie the game.

The Americans began to double SGA near half-court to get the ball out of his hands, and were able to generate turnovers from Canada. As both teams went small in order to switch match-ups on defence, Canada’s offence halted as they had just seven points to show for midway through the quarter.

Anthony Edwards caught fire from the mid-range, and a Mikal Bridges corner three gave the U.S. a two-point lead with 2:15 remaining.

That’s when Dillon Brooks knocked down his seventh three of the game to put Canada back on top, 106-105.

With the game tied 107-107, SGA called his own number and delivered yet another clutch shot for Canada.

After forcing an Anthony Edwards miss, and two free throws from Dillon Brooks, Canada led by four with 20 seconds left.

With time running out, the U.S. missed a contested mid-range shot from Austin Reaves, but Mikal Bridges was fouled after grabbing an offensive rebound and went to the line with 4.2 seconds left. After making the first, the unthinkable happened on a missed free throw.

The Bridges three tied the game at 111-111 with 0.6 seconds remaining. Kelly Olynyk nearly drained a deep fadeaway three to win the game at the buzzer, but it clanged off of the back rim. Canada would have to get it done in overtime.

Seemingly unfazed by the wild end of regulation, SGA opened the period with a stepback mid-range jumper.

Then, he delivered the highlight of the tournament for Canada, leaving two defenders in the dust and nailing a huge three to extend the lead to five.

After Canada came up with a few big stops on defence, and Dillon Brooks delivered yet another clutch bucket, R.J. Barrett provided the dagger off of SGA’s 12th assist.

Canada would hold on to win by nine, 127-118.

Dillon Brooks’ 39 points was not just a Canadian record, but a new points record in a medal game at the FIBA World Cup.

Although he’s a hero in Canada today, he delivered a post-game quote on embracing his status as antagonist in the basketball world.

“It’s just like Kobe Bryant… He had to figure out how to create the Black Mamba, a different persona when he comes on the court. I guess that’s my personaβ€”The Villain.”

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Dillon Brooks become the first pair of teammates with 30-point games in a men’s World Cup game since 1990.

For the U.S., it is the second straight World Cup without a medal, finishing seventh in 2019.

According to the FIBA rankings heading into the tournament, they took down No. 1 Spain, No. 2 U.S., and No. 5 France, all en route to winning bronze.

Third-best in the world in 2023, and plenty of reason to expect an upgrade in Paris 2024, as Canada wins a thriller in Manila over the juggernaut United States.