Prior to a slugfest in the gold medal game that saw Dennis Schröder drop 28 points to lead Germany to an 83-77 win over Serbia for the country’s first World Cup gold, Canada and Team USA met in a highly anticipated showdown for the bronze medal.
The game lost some of its luster (and some of its stars to rest) after both teams lost their semifinals, but it was still a meaningful game for both sides as there was a bronze medal and plenty of pride on the line in a matchup of two teams loaded with NBA stars. For Team USA, Anthony Edwards and Austin Reaves continued to shine with 24 and 23 points respectively, while Mikal Bridges had a nice night with 19 points and nine rebounds, but as has been the case against top teams in this World Cup, they simply didn’t have enough defensive answers for Canada. While they were playing without Jaren Jackson Jr., Team USA allowed Canada to do just about anything they wanted on the offensive end, with the Canadians shooting 51.2 percent from the field and 45.9 percent from three, creating good looks consistently.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had yet another monster game with 31 points, 12 assists, and six rebounds, but his performance came secondary to Dillon Brooks dropping 39 on the Americans, as he delighted in the opportunity to take down Team USA. Brooks caught fire from deep, knocking down 7-of-8 from beyond the arc, and simply bludgeoned the USA defense with a barrage of threes.
Even with Brooks’ outburst, the two teams were unable to separate themselves through four quarters, still being knotted up at 111-111 thanks to some incredible late game heroics from Mikal Bridges.
But as the game went to overtime the Canadian side took control. SGA and RJ Barrett (23 points) were the ones to deliver the biggest buckets of overtime to lead Canada to a 127-118 win, as Gilgeous-Alexander dropped Mikal Bridges with a stepback and Barrett put the dagger in with a three from the top of the key.
For the second straight World Cup, Team USA heads home without a medal to show for their efforts, and while they should have a much better player pool available to choose from for the Olympics next year, they were still a highly talented team this year and showed there’s lots of work to do to get them to become a cohesive unit, particularly defensively. For Canada, its the first World Cup medal for the men’s squad, and earning it with a win over the Americans is particularly sweet. They’ll still feel they left a gold medal opportunity on the table, but will be certainly buoyed by their performance and will have sky high expectations for the Olympics next year.