In a nail-biting ending, Canada took the remaining ticket to Manila for the Final Round of the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup, leaving a fellow powerhouse nation and defending world champions in Spain hanging in Jakarta, 88-85.
Spain led by as many as 12, but fumbled their margin at the final frame as Canada erupted for a delayed blitz. As Juancho Hernangomez sank his two foul shots to put España ahead by three, Dillon Brooks responded with a massive game-tying trey of his own with 1:19 left on the clock, 80-80.
Alex Abrines’ costly turnover with a minute left placed the Canadians at the driver’s seat with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander capitalizing the pivotal moment – draining an icy step-back jumper to put his nation in front, 82-80, with around 44 seconds left.
Another error hampered Spain at the clutch time as Shai Gilgeous-Alexander stole the ball and shot two successful free throws, 84-80.
Juan Nunez went for a quick layup to still put Spain on a fighting distance. Upon fouling Canada on the next defensive play, Gilgeous-Alexander managed to step up again and shoot two more free throw trips, 86-82.
Santi Aldama raced the court and delivered a three-pointer to push Spain trailing just a point, 86-85, but Gilgeous-Alexander’s another pair of freebies put his Canada club on the winning point as Alex Abrines’ heymaker three didn’t go in.
Gilgeous-Alexander was the hero for Canada with 30 markers and seven assists. Brooks’ 22 and three triples also emerged significant to The Road Warriors’ comeback over La Roja.
Canada will face Luka Doncic and Slovenia at the quarterfinal round of the FIBA World Cup.