Shai Gilgeous-Alexander owns the fourth quarter, wills Canada to win

Canada's Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Photo by YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP via Getty Images)
Canada's Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Photo by YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP via Getty Images) /

The Oklahoma City Thunder have been well-represented at the 2023 FIBA World Cup Tournament. OKC Thunder stars Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Lu Dort have helped power Team Canada this Summer, as they held the second-best odds of winning the World Cup behind Team USA. However, things went differently than planned, with the squad suffering an upset loss on Friday and forcing a win-or-go-home tilt on Sunday with Spain.

Team Spain had the initial punch, jumping out to a double-digit lead and controlling the tempo in the first half. Team Canada stormed back but could not swell their lead to more than three. A strong 11-0 run late in the third quarter saddled Spain with a 12-point lead entering the final frame, their largest of the night to that point.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander dominates the game for Team Canada, showing superstar abilities in a must-win contest.

Along with that embarrassing close to the third quarter, Team Canada missed plenty of chances down the stretch of the final frame. They cut the lead to four points with over two minutes to play, which is when Shai Gilgeous-Alexander grabbed hold of the game.

It started with a through traffic and one at the rim for the OKC Thunder superstar, which cut Spain’s lead to one. On the next offensive possession, Gilgeous-Alexander found Dillon Brooks for the triple to tie the game with a minute left.

A Shai Gilgeous-Alexander step-back mid-range shot gave Team Canada a two-point lead with 42 ticks remaining. On the next possession, Gilgeous-Alexander deflects a lob pass to earn a steal and forces Spain to foul him as he puts Canada up four with 21 seconds left.

With the game on the line, the OKC Thunder star showed up in a big way, willing his home country to a win. This feat offered a glimpse into the future for OKC Thunder fans.

The Thunder have played 15 seasons in Bricktown, and Oklahoma City has rostered some of the league’s best players for the vast majority of those seasons. After a complete rebuild, the OKC Thunder once again have a great player in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

If his first-team All-NBA performance a season ago was not enough to sway you, despite him willing that Thunder team to 40 wins and a play-in tournament bid, tonight’s game against Spain should.

In a win-or-go-home game with the pressure of expectations for the first time in his career, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander absolutely dominated the game in the final quarter. He finished with 30 points, four rebounds, seven assists, and three steals. Team Canada walked away with a thrilling 88-85 win over the reigning FIBA World Cup Champions, Spain.

You no longer should question if Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has what it takes to lead a team, or if he can handle pressure, or if his game will change with expectations. He is simply one of the best players in the World.

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