Team Canada can not overcome slow start, upset by Serbia

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander #2 of Canada (Photo by Ezra Acayan/Getty Images)
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander #2 of Canada (Photo by Ezra Acayan/Getty Images) /

The Oklahoma City Thunder have seen Shai Gilgeous-Alexander go on a marvelous run in the 2023 FIBA World Cup tournament. A stretch that included knocking off one of the best players in the World, Luka Doncic, a pair of 30-point performances in win-or-go-home tilts, and getting credit for being one of the best players in the entire tournament.

Team Canada came into the 2023 FIBA World Cup Tournament with the second-best odds to win the cup, behind only the International powerhouse, Team USA. After being upset in pool play, Team Canada recovered to reach the Semi-Finals, winning back-to-back elimination games. Team USA also suffered an upset loss along the way, but each squad’s windy path ended up in the Semi-Finals.

Things set up well for Team Canada playing Team Serbia, who was overmatched in terms of NBA talent, only boasting Nikola Jovic and Bogdan Bogdanovic in this World Cup run. Though, at full strength, you can ensure this Serbia team will not be a one-hit wonder as they will eventually add NBA Champion and two-time MVP Nikola Jokic, as well as two-time EuroLeague Champion and MVP in Vasilije Micic, who makes his way to the OKC Thunder this season. Team Serbia will also pick up Aleksej Pokusevski for this next run if healthy.

The OKC Thunder see Shai Gilgeous-Alexander get upset in the Semi-Final round against Team Serbia.

Team Serbia delivered the first punch, and the hits just kept coming. Serbia won the rebounding battle (33-22), Points off turnovers (18-13), Fast break points (14-13), Second chance points (12-6), Points in the Paint (46-32), and Points off the bench (30-18).

Team Canada coughed up the ball 13 times and was doomed by a slow start offensively. The team never truly found a rhythm and looked gassed all night.

For all the FIBA World Cup heroics, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was limited to 15 points, nine assists, two rebounds, two turnovers, three steals, and a block in this one. The OKC Thunder Superstar picked up his third foul before the second frame ended, leading to a hit-and-miss contest for the Canada offense, which was ice-cold without Shai Gilgeous-Alexander on the floor.

Even as Serbia defended Gilgeous-Alexander better than any FIBA opponent, he still finished shooting 50 percent from the floor and 7-for-9 at the free-throw line.

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