Canadian talent has been developing over the last few years, and it now looks like they’re ready to start thinking about competing seriously for gold medals in the FIBA World Cup and Olympics for the next decade or so. Though their campaign could be considered slightly disappointing after getting trounced by Serbia in the semifinals, they did gain a measure of redemption by defeating their continental rivals, the mighty Team USA, in the third-place game.
And boy, did Canada do it in style. They were led by Dillon Brooks, everyone’s favorite target for vitriol, who had the best game of his life with 39 points, four assists and five rebounds while shooting 12 of 18 from the floor, 7 of 8 from three, and 8 of 10 from the free throw line. The loudmouthed guard/forward, who signed what looked like an insane $86 million dollar contract in the offseason with the Houston Rockets, had the last laugh. Brooks, who talks a lot of shit, was finally able to back it up. We’ll have to see if this was a one-off, or whether he can be a consistent contributor in Houston after his antics got him booted from the Memphis Grizzlies, as he had a part in making them the most disliked team in the NBA.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander again showed why he’s such a prized youngster for the Oklahoma City Thunder, as he finished the game with a double-double for 31 points, six rebounds and 12 assists. He made 11 of 20 shots overall and all eight of his free throws.
RJ Barrett, who has found a bit of trouble with having consistent performances for the New York Knicks, was the other player to really show out for Canada in the 127-118 overtime victory. Barrett had 23 points, seven rebounds and two assists while making 8 of 16 shots, along with 4 of 8 three-pointers. One of those threes was the final nail in the coffin for Team USA in OT.
This is only the beginning, it seems, for Team Canada. Their failure to reach the gold medal round is still a big disappointment, but they instantly followed up on their failure by defeating the most talented team in the tournament. They have such a young core, with Brooks being the eldest of the three mentioned above at 27, and a fourth NBA-level player in Lu Dort is only 24. Kelly Olynyk, at 32, will probably only have a couple tournaments left in him, but the future looks extremely bright.