Brian WindhorstSenior writer at ESPN3 minutes to read
MANILA, Philippines – An NBA World Cup game unfolded on Sunday, with Team USA and Team Canada locked in a high-octane, free-flowing game of star versus star, feeling very comfortable in their entertaining send-off. Filipinos obsessed with the league.
Shay Gilgos-Alexander played his stellar role, scoring seven of his 31 points to start overtime and eventually lead Canada’s 127-118 victory for the bronze medal.
Canada also had a standout game, loudly and unexpectedly from Dillon Brooks, who scored 39 points as part of his shooting masterpiece.
Mikal Bridges had a special moment for Team USA when he completed a stunning 4-point play by missing a free throw on goal, chasing down the rebound and then turning around and shooting in a 3-pointer with 0.6 seconds left in the fourth quarter. To form a miracle tie. Bridges scored 19 points and gave everything he had to defend Gilgeous-Alexander throughout the evening.
However, it was only a reprieve. The memory of this day will be even more relished by the Canadians, who won their first major international medal in 87 years. The last time Canada took home basketball equipment was silver at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.
The United States failed to medal at a World Cup for the second straight time, the first time that has happened since 1970. The Americans were without starting center Jaren Jackson Jr. and reserves Brandon Ingram and Paolo Banchero due to illness.
Team USA stumbled to the end, losing three of their final four games. The defense collapsed along the way, first due to the extra possession allowed by offensive rebounds, then eventually falling under a barrage of 3-pointers as the Americans struggled to get to their shooters while trying to cover the paint.
Including the 2019 World Cup and the 2021 Olympics, where Team USA won gold, the Americans have lost seven times so far. This summer’s menu that focused on speed and variety proved ineffective.
CEO Grant Hill, general manager Sean Ford and coach Steve Kerr felt good about the team’s prospects and they had reason to be after a good pre-tournament performance. But they will have to go back to the drawing board, and the track of recruiting star players, for next year’s Paris Olympics.
Ultimately, Kerr, determined to make small-ball work, decided to start five guards and wingers with 6-foot-5 “big man” Josh Hart. When Hart fouled out, Kerr replaced him with 6-foot-1 Jalen Brunson to make him smaller. Kerr played most of the final 10 minutes of the game this way and nearly sealed the win.
However, at that point, I would have been upset.
Brooks’ last three matches in Manila have been solid on both ends. The Americans know Brooks’ reputation as an inconsistent outside shooter, but it proved a mistake to give him space. He made 6 of 8 3-pointers and scored 21 points in a thrilling first half, galloping and chirping the whole way as is his trademark.
The crowd, which earlier in the week had jeered him for being a rival to his beloved Los Angeles Lakers, turned on him and unleashed “MVP” chants for Brooks at several points.
Brooks also battled Anthony Edwards on defense, and their battle against each other delighted the crowd. Edwards finished with 24 points in a strong overall showing at the World Cup.
Austin Reaves finished his stellar offensive career with 23 points for Team USA, while RJ Barrett added 23 points for Canada.
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