FIBA World Cup

‘Thirsty for more’: Canada books first Olympic berth in 23 years

This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.

‘Thirsty for more’: Canada books first Olympic berth in 23 years

POWERHOUSE. Canadian NBA players Dillon Brooks (left) and Dwight Powell help Shai Gilgeous-Alexander get up the floor during their game against Spain in the FIBA World Cup.


Before facing the Luka Doncic-powered Slovenia in the FIBA World Cup quarterfinals, Canada relishes its return to the Olympics after more than two decades

MANILA, Philippines – When Shai Gilgeous-Alexander hit a go-ahead step-back jumper with 43 seconds left to take down Spain, Canada booked two plane tickets: one to Manila for the final phase of the FIBA World Cup, and another to Paris for the 2024 Olympics

“It’s an honor,” said Gilgeous-Alexander on qualifying for the Olympics next year. “I know the best athletes in the world are there and we consider ourselves amongst that group. It’s a good feeling to go.”

SGA, one of the favorites for tournament MVP, dropped 30 points, hit the necessary shots down the stretch and steered Canada to a monumental 88-85 win against the defending champion Spain to end the second round Sunday night, September 3, in Jakarta, Indonesia.

With the win, Canada finally secured an Olympic berth along with USA after emerging as the top two teams from the Americas in the World Cup’s group phase. 

It was a magical run so far for the Canadians, dominating the first round with an average margin of 37 points, yielding to an upset by Brazil two nights back, and now escaping the world No. 1 team en route to their program’s first Olympic ticket since the 2000 Sydney Games. 

Parading a team with an average age of 27, the Olympic dream has always been a lost cause for the Canadian national team, ever since the time of basketball Hall of Famer Steve Nash in the mid-2000s.

So for someone like Gilgeous-Alexander, whose mother Charmaine Gilgeous competed at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and grew up with little Olympic basketball recollection from his country, becoming an Olympian and ushering a new era for Canadian basketball meant more than just a tournament feat. 

“She holds no more bragging rights,” said the 25-year old Shai, referring to his mother, who was a track athlete for the Antigua and Barbuda back then. “My whole life, I’ve known what it meant to go to the Olympics because of that.”

Dillon Brooks, a native of Mississauga in Ontario, also left his heart out in the win with 22 points on an efficient 8-for-12 shooting clip, that included a booming trey that tied the game at 80 to set up Gilgeous-Alexander’s step-back heroics. 

His offensive explosion, though, paled in comparison with his defense as his tenacity on that end disrupted Spain’s executions, especially in the final five minutes, allowing the Canadians to outscore their opponents, 27-12, and turn back a once 12-point disadvantage. 

“[I] appreciate the whole country. We did this for them,” said Brooks on their Olympic-clinching win. “It’s a great thing for us, as a team. Not only for Mississauga, but every city. We are all united.”

But Canada’s hands remained full as they fly to Manila for the quarterfinals. With one goal down, their quest for their first-ever podium finish in the World Cup persists. 

“Qualifying is extremely important to us. But it’s not the end point,” said head coach Jordi Fernandez. “We didn’t come here just to go to the Olympics.” 

Canada will face Slovenia – a team headed by another MVP favorite Luka Doncic – at the Mall of Asia Arena on September 6. 

“We want to make sure that everybody knows that we’re knocking at the door and we’re thirsty for more,” Fernandez added. – Rob Andrew L. Dongiapon/ 

Must Read

GAME SCHEDULE: FIBA World Cup 2023 finals

GAME SCHEDULE: FIBA World Cup 2023 finals

Add a comment

Sort by

There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.

Summarize this article with AI