Canada rose to the occasion, securing a significant victory over reigning champions Spain in their final second-round match at the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023.
This marks the first time since 1994 that Spain has failed to advance to the World Cup Quarter-Finals. Conversely, Canada has clinched a spot in the top eight for the first time since 1994 as well.
With 1:32 remaining, RJ Barrett was called for his fifth foul. Subsequently, Willy Hernangomez made a couple of free throws, giving Spain their last lead at 80-77. However, from that point onwards, the game belonged entirely to Canada.
Dillon Brooks tied the score with a three-pointer, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander sank a fadeaway shot, granting Canada an 82-80 advantage, and Lu Dort made a crucial steal with 26 seconds left, helping to secure this historic victory.
Canada’s triumph propelled them to first place in Group P, securing their spot in the Quarter-Finals and guaranteeing them a place in the Olympics.
Meanwhile, Spain’s hopes of defending their championship were dashed as they were eliminated from contention, relegating them to the Classification Round.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander remained the primary contributor for Team Canada. He made a crucial basket in the closing moments to give his team the lead and sank the decisive free throws to secure the final score.
Gilgeous-Alexander had an impressive performance, recording 30 points, 7 assists, 4 rebounds, and 3 steals. Additionally, he displayed exceptional accuracy at the free-throw line, making 14 out of 16 attempts.
“It was a really good game, really high-level basketball,” Gilgeous-Alexander said. “It was a lot of adversity. They played a well-rounded game. It’s a really good team over there, but our group just wanted it a little bit more. We know what’s at stake. We’re willing to do whatever it took, and we got it done.”
Watch the game highlights between Spain and Canada in the First Round of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023: