The team Canada beats USA in the World Cup bronze-medal game in OT.
On Sunday, an NBA game erupted at the FIBA World Cup, with Team USA and Team Canada engaging in the high-octane, free-flowing, star-vs.-star game with which they are so familiar in a spirited farewell to the league-obsessed Filipinos.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was the standout performer, scoring seven of his 31 points to start overtime and finally propelling Canada to a 127-118 victory for the bronze medal.
Dillon Brooks, who scored 39 points as part of a shooting masterpiece, also made a loud and unexpected message for Canada.
Mikal Bridges gave Team USA an unforgettable moment when he finished a jaw-dropping four-point play by intentionally missing a free throw, chasing down the rebound, and then twisting and hitting in a 3-pointer with 0.6 seconds left in the fourth quarter to establish a stunning tie.
Bridges finished with 19 points and gave his all all evening defending Gilgeous-Alexander.
But it was only a temporary reprieve. The Canadians, who won their first major international medal in 87 years, will remember this day fondly. The last time Canada won a basketball medal was in 1936 at the Berlin Olympics.
The United States failed to medal in its second straight World Cup, the first time since 1970. Due to illness, the Americans were without starter center Jaren Jackson Jr., as well as reserves Brandon Ingram and Paolo Banchero.
Team USA was dragged home, losing three of its final four games. The defense broke along the way, first as a result of additional possessions granted by offensive rebounds, then as a result of a devastating barrage of 3-pointers as the Americans struggled to get out to shooters as they attempted to pack the paint.
In their losses, they gave up an average of 117 points. Team USA coach Steve Kerr said:
We just didn't defend well enough against Germany [in the semifinals] or against Canada, and that's the bottom line. Every year when you try to build a team, you try to build the best two-way team you can and be able to get stops and score, and everybody's trying to do that.- USA coach Steve Kerr
The Americans have already lost seven times, including the 2019 World Cup and the 2021 Olympics, where Team USA won gold. This summer's roster, which emphasized agility and versatility, was just unsuccessful.
After a strong pre-tournament performance, executive director Grant Hill, general manager Sean Ford, and Kerr were optimistic about the team's prospects. However, they will have to go back to the drawing board, as well as the star player recruiting trail, for next year's Olympics in Paris.
We've really studied everything about FIBA and the history of United States basketball when we've won, what has been the reason, and when we've lost what has been the reason. So we study all that stuff, and what it comes down to for us in this tournament, we put ourselves in a great position. We got to the semifinals and were right there.- USA coach Steve Kerr
Kerr, determined to make the small ball work, eventually elected to play five guards and wings, with 6-foot-5 Josh Hart serving as the "big man." Kerr went even smaller when Hart fouled out, replacing him with 6-foot-1 Jalen Brunson. Kerr played like style for the majority of the game's final ten minutes, nearly winning it.
It would have felt like an upset at the time.
Brooks' final three games in Manila were solid on both ends of the field. The Americans were aware of Brooks' reputation as an erratic outside shooter, but allowing him room proved to be a mistake.
He hit 7-of-8 three-pointers and scored 21 points in a scorching first half, running and chirping the entire time.
The crowd, who had jeered him earlier in the week because he was a rival of their beloved Los Angeles Lakers, had turned around and was chanting "MVP" on various occasions. Brooks, who signed a four-year, $86 million deal this summer with the Houston Rockets said:
It was so enjoyable. Obviously, the hate doesn't stop, it keeps going. It's hard to battle against the world and a team.- Brooks
Brooks' allusion to "a team" was most likely a veiled reference to the Memphis Grizzlies, who parted company with him following last season.
Brooks also faced off against Anthony Edwards on defense, and the crowd loved it. Edwards finished with 24 points in a solid overall performance at the World Cup.
We can't get no stops, so I don't know what we could have done. Our defense is pretty bad.- Edwards
Austin Reaves finished Team USA's outstanding offensive tournament with 23 points, while RJ Barrett scored 23 for Canada.
The main reason the Canadians are flying home with a medal is Gilgeous-Alexander, who also had 12 assists and six rebounds on Sunday and completed the tourney averaging 24.5 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 6.4 assists on 54% shooting.
He kills everybody in the league. He's one day probably going to be in a race for MVP. You've got to give him his flowers.- Reaves