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Canadian Hoop Dreams Come True!

Canada's gutsy basketball victory over Spain in the FIBA World CUP quarterfinals wasn't just a game; it was a moment of national pride.

If you are a basketball fan, unless you dragged yourself out of bed at dawn, you missed a great game guaranteed to make your heart race fast. Before most Albertans were awake this lazy Sunday, the Canadian men’s basketball team pulled off a stunning fourth-quarter rally to beat Spain, 88-85, in the second-round FIBA World Cup matchup.

With the last-ditch win, our team advanced to the World Cup quarterfinals and earned a spot in the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Our men played their hearts out. Facing elimination if we lost, our team used tough defence and an epic clutch performance from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to rally after trailing nearly the entire game.

We started the fourth quarter trailing Spain, 73-61. But Gilgeous-Alexander, born in Toronto, Ontario, wouldn’t let the Canadians lose.

Clutch Canadian Stars

Gilgeous-Alexander, or SGA, joins Steph, Lebron and Kobe in basketball’s elite club of one-name stars. He closed out the win with plays that will be remembered as one of the greatest clutch performances in Canadian history.

SGA, who made First Team All-NBA this year for the Oklahoma City Thunder, led a heart-stopping fourth-quarter comeback, scoring or assisting on the last 14 points over the last two minutes. He nailed a step-back jumper with only 44 seconds left, pushing Canada into the lead. He then stole the ball on Spain’s next possession and then hit all six of his three throws down the stretch as Spain tried to come back.

SGA and Dillon Brooks, who calls Mississauga, Ontario, his hometown, scored a whopping 24 out of Canada’s final 27 points over the last ten minutes. Brooks, the long-time Memphis Grizzly who signed a huge free-agent contract with the Houston Rockets, hit three 3-pointers, including one that tied the game with just over a minute left.

As Albertans, rooting for a Canadian team with no homegrown players is hard. Especially when ten of the twelve players hail from Ontario, but our men’s spirited play overcame our regional differences to spark national pride. As Canadians, we also can’t help waving the flag in celebration of SGA’s recent heroics, which put him on the shortlist for the best five players in the world.

Why This Win Matters

For Canada, this victory is HUGE. It’s arguably the biggest win in the history of Canada’s national team, especially if it results in a medal.

Canada’s raw talent has been evident for the last three Olympic cycles, but our teams repeatedly lost heartbreakers to less-talented teams. We’ve been Canada snakebit, losing to Venezuela in 2015, Czechia in 2021 and Brazil last Friday.

Canada has loads of elite basketball talent. Twenty-six Canadians are on track to play in the NBA in the coming season, including All-Stars like SGA, Andrew Wiggins and Jamal Murray. The US is the only country to have sent players into the best league in the world at a higher rate. But Canada’s best players often haven’t played for the national team.

To overcome its past demons, Canada required a three-year commitment from players in order to play in this tournament and, potentially, the Olympics. The plan worked.

As for Spain? The defending World Cup champions were eliminated from the tournament with the loss.

Our men kept Spain from making a field goal for nearly six minutes in the final quarter. If our team continues to play lockdown defence, they can beat any of the other seven teams vying for the World Cup title.

What comes next?

Thanks to a few standout performances, our Canadian men can now bury the past and try to play up to their potential.

Advancing in first place out of their group, Canada will play Dallas Maverick superstar Luka Dončić‘s Slovenian team in a quarterfinal on Wednesday. If we beat them, we’ll go up against either Lithuania or Serbia in the semifinals; Canada and the US cannot unless they both make the FIBA final.

Canadians, from sea to sea to sea, are excited about this win. Players, fans, and people who don’t usually watch basketball can’t help but smile at the gutsy win. It’s a great moment for Canadian sports, and it shows that if you work hard and believe in yourself, you can achieve your dreams.

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