Photo: FIBA

Canada marched to the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup upon downing Slovenia, 100-89, at the Manila’s Mall of Asia Arena on Wednesday, Sept. 6

The Canadians didn’t lose poise and composure amid the Filipino crowd’s heavy support towards Slovenia’s lead man and Dallas Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic.

The first-half battle between two international heavyweights was still tightly contested until the Road Warriors pulled the trigger to lead by as many as 16 at one point during the third frame (80-64).

But before the fourth quarter entry, the Slovenians managed to cut Canada’s margin to single-digits, 70-61, as Luka Doncic’s trey and Klemen Prepelic’s foul shots put them on the board.

Behind Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Canada was empowered in the final period. Luka Doncic took an early exit upon picking up his second technical foul with 6:37 remaining, heavily favoring Canada, 92-77. 

But the Slovenians didn’t lose hope without their ace man as they channeled a spirited 8-2 run after Doncic got booted out. The blitz pulled them to trail just a single-digit lead, 94-85, thanks to Gregor Hrovat’s reverse finish with 4:17 still at the clock.

But in the end, the balanced attack of the Canadians was too much for the Slovenians as they took a painful bow out of the World Cup contention upon gracing their Group Phase play in Japan.

This marks the first time that the World Cup will feature Canada in the Semifinal round. The Road Warriors will face the Bogdan Bogdanovic-led Serbia on Friday for the right to advance to the Finals stage