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Team Canada wins historic first medal at Men’s FIBA World Cup - what’s next?

A bronze medal, a W against Team USA... how can you top that? For Canada, winning the Olympics would do just that.

USA v Canada: 3rd Place Game - FIBA Basketball World Cup Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images

You may have seen the news by now — Canada beat the United States in overtime to become World Cup bronze medalists for the first time in Canada men’s program history. There was so much to be happy about: the medal, the Olympic berth, BEATING THE AMERICANS!!

In an overtime thriller, it was Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Dillon Brooks who really showed out on the Canadian team, scoring a combined 70 points.

Gilgeous-Alexander ended with 31 points, 12 assists and six rebounds, ending off a spectacular tournament for the young star out of Hamilton, Ontario. He earned a spot on the All-Tournament team.

Dillon Brooks ended the bronze medal game with 39 points, five assists and four rebounds. He shot 12-18 from the field and 7-8 from three. An absolutely monster performance that had Americans from coast to coast in awe... but also furthered Brooks’ villain arc. Canadians will never call him a villain again — the Mississauga-born Brooks is among favourite Canadians this week for sure.

RJ Barrett ended the game with 23 points, seven rebounds and two assists. Captain Canada Kelly Olynyk got his first medal with the squad after being a part of the program for over a decade. Guys like Phil Scrubb, Trae Bell-Haynes, and Dwight Powell — who have seen the ups and downs of Canada basketball over the years and also helped get Canada to this World Cup — were celebrated.

Yet, the job’s not over yet. Canada’s spot as the top team in the Americas has booked them a ticket to the Paris Olympics next summer. Bronze is great, but all eyes are on gold. With this World Cup squad all committed for the Olympics, plus the edition of Jamal Murray... Canada will have a target on their back as they head to France.

In particular, the USA will be out for revenge. It’s incredibly rare for a Team USA basketball team to walk away from an international competition with no hardware... and people noticed. We’re just a day out from the loss, and top American talent are already talking about committing to Team USA for the Olympics to try and — cough salvage their reputation cough — get back on the podium.

Us in Canada though... we’re thriving. It’s one thing to get a medal for the first time at an international FIBA competition, but OVER THE USA?! With Dillon Brooks being the one to give THAT performance? WE ARE THRIVING. Better — we have Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. We have Jamal Murray. We have some of the most exciting young basketball players in EXISTENCE. The USA? They have LeBron in his late 30s. Don’t come for me Lebron stans... but I’ll take SGA and Brooks, thanks.

Another performance that can’t go unnoticed in this World Cup is that of Canadian Head Coach Jordi Fernandez. He took over the team less than three months ago and still led them to the podium. Through adversity, through different countries and unexpected star performances, through foul trouble and cold shooting days — Jordi adjusted. It won’t be surprising when he is up for (and gets) the next available NBA head coaching job.

The Olympics are still months away, so for now Canadians can relax, and celebrate. No last minute Olympic qualifier tournament for the Men’s team. No more 5am tipoffs. No more “are they good enough?” “is it all just hype?” We know now the potential of this Canadian Men’s National Team.

Now we just wait for the next chance to make history.