OKC Thunder duo lifts Team Canada to new heights

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander #2 of Canada (Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images)
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander #2 of Canada (Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images) /

Wake up, Oklahoma City! We have the showdown every OKC Thunder fan was hoping for at the start of the 2023 FIBA World Cup tournament! A knockdown drag-out fight between Team Canada and Team USA on the final day of the tournament!…For Bronze.

Yeah, this tournament run did not quite go as planned for either side this Summer. Instead of these two teams littered with NBA talent battling it out for Gold, we had to wake up at 3 a.m. Central time to watch this international tilt.

Despite the Gold not being on the line, history still was. Team Canada has not medaled since the Dinosaurs roamed the earth (Real Answer: 1936). There is something different about playing for your country, especially when you can make history. That is exactly what the OKC Thunder duo, Lu Dort and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, did for Team Canada on Sunday morning.

OKC Thunder duo helps make history for Team Canada at the 2023 FIBA World Cup, knocking off Team USA.

Team Canada came out on fire, an 8-0 run jolted by Lu Dort’s three-point shooting. The Canadians eventually wrestled away a 13-point advantage before the first frame ended. The high-powered USA offense did not go down without a fight, going on a 15-2 run in the first three minutes of the second frame.

Dillon Brooks was on fire from beyond the arc, making his first six triple attempts to help Canada outscore Team USA. This three-point outburst was massive for the Canadians, who, at times this Summer, saw their offense go stagnant when players around Shai Gilgeous-Alexander were not cashing in their open looks.

Despite their strong third frame, Team Canada could not wrestle away control in this contest. Team USA came all the way back in the finale frame to tie the contest at 94 after a 12-3 run capped off by a Tyrese Haliburton triple.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander hit a patented Mid-range step back to give Canada the lead with under a minute to play. Anthony Edwards attempted to match that shot at the elbow on the other end but came up short.

After going up by 3, Team USA split the difference at the Free Throw Line with just a few ticks on the clock. USA rebounded their miss, and Mikal Bridges nailed a jumper to tie the game at 111 with just 0.6 seconds remaining in regulation.

In Overtime, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander got things underway with an off-balanced catch-and-shoot mid-range jumper to put Canada ahead by two and spark a 5-0 run with a step-back triple of his own.

That cushion from the OKC Thunder superstar was all Team Canada needed to clinch a win over Team USA and walk away with a third-place finish in the 2023 FIBA World Cup.

The OKC Thunder pair played a big part in this win, with Gilgeous-Alexander going for 31 points, six rebounds, and 12 assists. Lu Dort wrapped up this contest with 11 points and six rebounds on 2-for-6 shooting from deep. Dillon Brooks scored a jaw-dropping 39 points in this contest to lead the way.

It will be a quick turnaround for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and company, with NBA training camp set to open in less than a month.

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