After a hard-fought FIBA World Cup semifinal match Friday morning, Canada will play for a medal on Sunday.
It just won't be for gold.
Despite a solid game from stars R.J. Barrett, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Dillon Brooks, Canada could not stop an excellent Serbia team, losing 95-86.
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) September 8, 2023
Though Canada is disappointed, they have a lot of reasons to hold their heads high.
For one, the Serbians are one of the elite countries in world basketball. When they were a part of the former country Yugoslavia, they won five FIBA World Championships (FIBA is the world organization for basketball). That is tied for the most ever, along with the United States!
And the current NBA Finals MVP, Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic, is also from the country. Even though Jokic chose to skip this World Cup, Serbia is still a worthy adversary.
Canada here to Shai
Even though it is for bronze and not gold, Canada is still going to be playing for its first-ever FIBA World Cup medal. It is a sign of how far Canadian basketball has come.
In the previous four FIBA World Cups, Canada had failed to qualify twice and finished 21st and 22nd the other two. That's not great.
This year, they pushed themselves into the final four of the tournament. Their strong performance also qualified them for the 2024 Paris Olympics. And one of their stars, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, has been the talk of the tournament. Many have felt he has been the best player of this World Cup and that he could be a future league MVP.
After years of being an basketball afterthought, Canada is now seen as a powerhouse. Pretty remarkable!
Facing the USA
But to win bronze on Sunday, Canada will need to beat the ULTIMATE basketball powerhouse.
The United States of America.
Can Canada beat the USA? Even though many of the best American players chose to miss this World Cup, they will not be easy to defeat. Americans pride themselves on being the best basketball players in the world. Canada will need to be at their very best to win their first-ever medal.
Canada plays the United States for bronze at 4:30 am EST, this Sunday. The gold medal match between Serbia and Germany follows at 8:30 am EST.