MANILA, Philippines (AFP) — Canada’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander said his team is “not satisfied” despite beating Slovenia to reach the Basketball World Cup semifinals for the first time ever.
The North Americans outbattled a Slovenia team led by Dallas Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic in Manila, winning 100-89 to set up a semifinal showdown with Serbia on Friday.
Gilgeous-Alexander gave another sublime performance, scoring 31 points and claiming 10 rebounds and four assists.
The Oklahoma City Thunder point guard said it was “an honor” to make history with Canada but set his sights even higher than the semifinals.
“Just putting on the jersey is an honor in itself, and to win is another good feeling,” he said.
“We’re not satisfied. We want to win gold.”
Canada came through a bruising encounter that saw both Doncic and Dillon Brooks ejected in the fourth quarter.
Brooks was engaged in a running battle with Doncic all game, using his defensive tricks to throw the Slovenian star out of his rhythm.
Canada head coach Jordi Fernandez said Brooks “has to have better composure” but praised his defensive effort.
“Today was a defensive clinic of leading with his chest, showing his hands, pressuring full-court,” he said.
“And if you don’t think that way, you don’t like basketball.”
The two teams refused to give an inch and were locked at 50-50 at the half-time break.
Canada began to edge ahead after the interval, helped by a timely three-pointer from Brooks that gave his team a seven-point lead.
Centre Kelly Olynyk said the semifinal against Serbia would be “another battle.”
“We’re trying to do something that Canada basketball has never done, and we’ve got to do it together,” he said.
“We’ve got two more games and we’ve just got to keep playing the way we play.”