The Canadian Men’s Basketball Team certainly proved themselves at the 2023 FIBA World Cup, gaining a ton of new fans in the Philippines.
The Canada Men’s Basketball Team battled and fought their way en route to their most successful FIBA World Cup Tournament finish in the team’s history.
Apart from beating the powerhouse team (and their border neighbor), Team USA for the bronze medal, Canada also had to go through World No.1-ranked Spain in their last match in Jakarta to officially book their ticket to the championship rounds held in Manila. Building on the momentum of their victory against the Spaniards, the star-studded Canadian team was locked in as soon as they arrived for their first game in the Philippines. It was a knockout match that they played against global superstar Luka Doncic and Slovenia.
Fans of players from both countries filled the Mall of Asia Arena. Canada jerseys were everywhere, particularly those bearing the No. 2 of star player Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
The venue was in no shortage of Slovenian fans as well and it even felt like a home game for them at certain points of the match. Undoubtedly, this is because of the appeal of the uber-popular Luka Doncic whose jersey was also worn by fans all over the arena.
Perhaps no one felt that he was away from home more than Dillon Brooks — the guy who has taken on the personality of a villain in his professional career drew boos and jeers from the crowd. Unfazed, however, Dillon had a great game and was instrumental in making sure that Canada came away with the all-important victory as he performed his role masterfully, which was to get in the opposing star’s head.
The biggest testimony to his work would be the fact that Luka Doncic got frustrated and eventually thrown out of the game late in the fourth quarter due to two technical fouls.
But the biggest star for the Canadians was Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Filipino fans experienced a treat as we watched him have his best game of the entire tournament putting up 31 points and 10 rebounds while only losing the ball once. It was a masterclass and despite the match’s intensity, he made it look so easy.
“They have one of the best players in the world and it’s tough to guard him,” says Luka Doncic during a post-match press conference while referring to SGA.
When asked what message Canada is sending the rest of the basketball with performances, RJ Barrett had this to say: “I think we’re just showing that we are such a hardworking team that when we come together do the right things and listen to what coach is telling us to do, then we could be special.”
And special is indeed right. With the kind of performance that they’ve shown and the exciting style of play, it’s safe to say that the Canadian Men’s Basketball Team gained a ton of new fans and followers amongst the millions of Pinoy hoops fans. And for sure, they’re gonna want to see them again.
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Banner image from FIBA World Cup on Facebook.