Canada pulls away from Slovenia to secure 1st ever World Cup semifinal berth

Canada pulls away from Slovenia to secure 1st ever World Cup semifinal berth

Canada secured its maiden FIBA World Cup semifinal berth, pulling away from Slovenia in the second half Wednesday for a 100-89 victory.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and RJ Barrett led the way for Canada with 31 and 24 points, respectively.

The Oklahoma City Thunder guard is the first player in 29 years to record at least 30 points and 10 rebounds in a FIBA World Cup knockout game, according to Sportsnet’s Arash Madani.

Dallas Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic added 26 points, five assists, and four boards in a losing cause.

Canada will now take on Serbia for a spot in the gold-medal game.

“If we haven’t sent (a statement) already, we’re a pretty good basketball team,” Gilgeous-Alexander told Madani postgame. “We play together. We play fast. We play tough. We’re pretty hard to beat. Pretty hard to play with.

“We just gotta keep imposing our will, imposing our identity on teams for 40 minutes and we’ll be alright.”

The two teams were deadlocked at 50 halfway through Wednesday’s clash. There were 18 lead changes in the first 20 minutes of play, with no team gaining more than a four-point advantage.

Slovenia shot the lights out in the first half, making 10-of-17 attempts from downtown and 52% of their field goals overall.

However, Canada took over in the final 20 minutes of play, outscoring Slovenia 30-21 in a decisive third quarter.

Doncic was held to just nine second-half points as Dillon Brooks and Luguentz Dort frustrated the four-time NBA All-Star. The Slovenian was ejected from the contest with 6:37 remaining after picking up his second technical foul.

“I think Dillon played great,” Doncic told reporters postgame. “He was very physical like he always does. A lot of people don’t like him but I respect him for what he does and he does that stuff really good.”

Despite Doncic’s absence, Slovenia made one last charge, cutting the deficit to nine points, but couldn’t get any closer.

Canada’s best previous World Cup result was a sixth-place finish at both the 1978 and 1982 editions of the showpiece tournament.

With Slovenia’s defeat, Serbia and Germany clinched Europe’s two automatic berths for next year’s Olympics in Paris.

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