Canada takes aim at men’s basketball World Cup medal after chippy win over Slovenia

Canada’s last podium appearance at a major senior basketball tournament was in 1986, a bronze at the women’s World Cup.

You have to go back 50 years before that, to the 1936 Olympics, for the men’s team’s last medal — silver after a 19-8 loss to the U.S. amid a rainstorm in Nazi Germany.

But with one more win at the 2023 men’s World Cup, those droughts will be over.

Canada beat Slovenia 100-89 in the quarterfinals in Manila on Wednesday, guaranteeing it will play for a medal for the first time ever at this tournament. The Canadians will next meet Serbia, which crushed Lithuania on Tuesday, with a spot in the championship game on the line on Friday.

The other semifinal pits the U.S. against Germany, which beat Latvia 81-79 earlier on Wednesday.

WATCH | Canada tops Slovenia to reach semis:

Canada dominates Slovenia on the way to the FIBA World Cup semifinals

Canada’s men’s basketball team, led by a 31 point performance by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, defeat Slovenia 100-89 and will face Serbia in the FIBA World Cup semifinals on Friday.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander of Hamilton, Ont., led a high-powered Canadian scoring attack with 31 points, to go with 10 rebounds and seven assists.

Along with RJ Barrett, who finished with 24 points, Gilgeous-Alexander led yet another third-quarter explosion for Canada, turning a halftime tie into a 16-point lead around halfway through the frame to take control of the contest.

Nickeil Alexander-Walker, the cousin of Gilgeous-Alexander, added 14 points.

Meanwhile, Dillon Brooks put together his second straight dominant defensive performance, hounding Slovenian star Luka Doncic into an eight-for-20 shooting night. Doncic still led his side with 26 points.

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“Dillon played great. He was very physical, like he always [is]. I know a lot of people don’t like him, but I respect him for what he does, and he does that stuff really good,” Doncic said.

Both players were ejected in the fourth quarter, with Brooks picking up a disqualifying foul before Doncic’s incessant arguing with the referees led to him also being tossed with his second technical foul.

Doncic later said the officials were “unfair.”

“I think everybody knows what my frustration was. Playing for the national team, it’s a lot of emotions. A lot of times I had to control myself, which I’ve been having problems with,”‘ he said.

With the loss, Slovenia will be relegated to a last-chance qualifying tournament for the 2024 Paris Olympics, while Germany and Serbia clinch the European berths along with host France.

Canada booked its Olympic spot with its victory over Spain to finish the second round on Sunday.

Perhaps, by the time they land in France next summer, the Canadians will be looking to add to a growing medal collection.

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