Temps de lecture : 6 mn 🕗
MANILA (Philippines) – The United States and canada played an incredible game in front of 10,666 fans in the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila. The Third Place Game went to overtime for the first time since 1990, and it finished with a 127-118 win for Canada.
While Canada picked up their biggest success in international basketball and won a medal for the first time in FIBA Basketball World Cup history, the United States failed to reach the podium in consecutive World Cup events for the first time since 1963, 1967 and 1970.
Turning point: It looked like the game was done and dusted when Shai Gilgeous-Alexander made his trademark pull up from the midrange, and Dillon Brooks added a pair of free throws to make it a four-point Canada lead with just seconds left to play in the fourth quarter.
But Mikal Bridges had a trick up his sleeve. An unreal move from the free throw line, making the first, intentionally missing the second only to grab his own rebound and knock down a three-pointer from the corner to tie it at 111-111 with just 0.6 left to play in the fourth.
Mikal Bridges sends it to overtime.
— FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 🏆 (@FIBAWC) September 10, 2023
“Coach told me to miss the second one. I tried to miss it to the right, that's where you want the ball in situations like that and I just read and reacted. I knew it was low time so I just went and shot it,” Bridges explained after the game.
Kelly Olynyk had the final shot for Canada, a long three-pointer which looked on line… but bounced out, sending the game to overtime.
That's where SGA took over once again, with a little bit of help from Dillon Brooks. Shai's back-to-back buckets led to Brooks scoring on consecutive possessions, and Canada took a 121-115 lead to the final two minutes of overtime.
And that was too much. Even for Mikal Bridges.
TCL Player of the Game: Dillon Brooks usually hears boos whenever he enters the court or has the ball in his hands, but this time around, his unreal first half turned even the die-hard LA Lakers fans in the Philippines to become his fans.
Dillon Brooks ON FIRE in the first half:
— FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 🏆 (@FIBAWC) September 10, 2023
Brooks even heard MVP chants in this one, finishing with 39 points on 7-of-8 shooting from beyond the arc, and had a helping hand in Gilgeous-Alexander who collected 31 points, 12 assists and 6 rebounds.
“I'm really proud of Dillon. This is how it looks when they let Dillon play. It's not just on the defensive end that he's the best perimeter defender in the World Cup, offensively he's been extremely efficient. Not just in this game,” coach Jordi Fernandez praised his shooting guard.
Stats don't lie: In a close game like this, free throws are even more important than usual. Canada converted 24-of-28, USA went 24-of-32, just enough for Canada to get some breathing space and win the game.
Many expected coach Fernandez to play big with a lot of size against the USA but he took the other direction, trusting his death lineup, a deadly small ball unit, with a lot of minutes. Lu Dort was in the starting five and posted the best +/- of the game with +25 for his 32 minutes on the floor.
Bottom line: Canada will climb the podium for the first time ever. They needed some hardware to support the software which suggested they have the talent base like few others in the entire world. With a medal in 2023, look for them to be even more motivated in Paris 2024.
Same goes for the United States. They were also involved in the last overtime Third Place Game, when they edged out Puerto Rico in 1990, but it wasn't to be in 2023. Anthony Edwards signed off with 24 points.
They said: “We fought today, I'll take that with me after this, but… It hurts. The biggest thing I'll take away are the relationships with the coaches, the players, the staff, that's what I'll take away from this experience. I think I'll never say no (to the national team). It's an honor every time, even though the outcome was not what we wanted, I wouldn't trade these six weeks for nothing.” – Mikal Bridges, USA
“Feel bad for our guys, they put so much into this for the last six weeks, an amazing group. It was tough to hang in there tonight without three guys who are important to the team. But these guys fought, Mikal hit an incredible shot to force overtime, we just ran out of gas. Canada deserved it, congrats.” – Steve Kerr, USA head coach
“I didn't need any reminder (that the world has caught up with the USA), I was on the staff in 2019 and we finished seventh. The United States haven't won the World Cup since 2014. It's hard, these teams in FIBA are really good, well coached, they've got continuity, this is difficult. It's been difficult already. What I'm so impressed with is just the way our guys fought, especially tonight under these circumstances, missing three key teammates, just battling to get to overtime was impressive. The narrative about USA basketball in FIBA, do we need reminders, we're past that. These teams are really good.” – coach Kerr again
“Just happy to be able to put this jersey on. I missed a couple of Qualifiers and Windows, and I'm just happy to be here with my teammates, and put this jersey on, represent my country for all the Canadians out there.” – Dillon Brooks, Canada
“Today was not perfect. Obviously, we have to learn how to box out on free throws.” – Jordi Fernandez, Canada head coach, semi-joking about allowing that Bridges' three
“This team was amazing, special, it's the beginning of something that's gonna last for a long time. From the first guy, all 12 guys came in and worked every day since August 1. They got better at least one percent every day, and they built the identity that we've just shown. We can do great things.” – coach Fernandez again
“I wanna thank two people, very special to me. My wife Kelsey, because when you're away from home for so long, it's tough, when you're coaching in the World Cup and you're away from home and you miss your kids, so thanks for supporting me. And thanks to coach (David) Blatt. He is like my angel. He's always there for me.” – coach Fernandez
“I just appreciate you, from the beginning. Everybody that was throwing shots on Twitter and Instagram, watching me play. It just helps me get better each and every day, motivates me to be better on the court for my teammates for whatever team I'm playing for. It motivates me to keep going.” – Brooks' message to haters