Despite an improbable comeback from Team USA, the tandem of Dillon Brooks and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander propelled Canada to a 127-118 overtime win on Sunday. With the loss, USA’s FIBA World Cup stint ends in disappointing fashion.
The Canadian national team was already a formidable opponent heading into the game, and coupled with the U.S. missing Brandon Ingram, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Paolo Banchero, they proved too much for the Americans to overcome.
Anthony Edwards led the U.S. in points with 24 and Austin Reaves had a great performance off the bench with 23 points in 33 minutes.
It was another rough start for the U.S. in the opening quarter as the same issues that have plagued this team emerged once again. Between Canada’s hot shooting and their ability to exploit Team USA’s switching on defense, the U.S. quickly fell behind double-digits on the scoreboard.
Austin Reaves once again saw plenty of time and was productive off the bench, scoring 10 points in his first 14 minutes of play. There was a brief moment of concern when Reaves came up gingerly after his first bucket, but he seemed to avoid anything serious as he remained in the game.
Team USA righted the ship in the second quarter as they went on a 19-2 run to regain the lead. Canada responded however, as Dillon Brooks knocked down all five of his 3-point attempts in the first half to help give Canada a slim edge entering the break.
It was a group effort for Canada in the second half as Brooks remained hot, even receiving some MVP chants after hitting another made three. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander also continued his stellar FIBA play by carving up USA’s defense on Sunday en route to his 31 points. Knicks’ forward, RJ Barrett, also was productive off the bench, adding 23 points on 8-16 shooting.
Down by nine entering the final ten minutes Team USA needed another run to get back into the game. They finally got the run going with a 12-3 start in the fourth that was capped off with three from Mikal Bridges to tie the game at 94.
After matching buckets the rest of the way, Gilgeous-Alexander’s scoring prowess helped Canada hold onto a slim two-point lead with 33 seconds left in the game. After an Edwards miss, Brooks grabbed the rebound and hit two free throws to essentially ice the game.
Miraculously, Bridges intentionally missed the second of his two free-throw attempts and after recovering his own miss, drilled a corner three to tie the game with just 0.6 seconds left. Kelly Olynyk nearly hit the game-winner for Canada on the other end, but with the miss, the game was sent to overtime.
The U.S. stayed with their small-ball lineup in overtime and Gilgeous-Alexander took advantage. The guard scored Canada’s first seven points including an ankle-breaking three that sent Bridges to the floor.
It was Brooks who would put on the finishing touches as he attacked the basket, drew fouls and assisted on what would end up being the dagger three from Barrett.
There is a lot that USA Basketball has to evaluate after ending the FIBA World Cup on such a low note. Chemistry was an issue, the rebounding was non-existent and they consistently had slow starts to their games.
For Reaves, there was both bright spots and a few warning signs that emerged from his tournament play.
On the positive front, Reaves proved his game translates on an international stage as he confidently scored on all three levels. The issues, however, came via opposing teams hunting Reaves on defense. He was routinely switched onto bigger players, and often lost the physicality battle. We’ll have to see how Reaves adjusts to this in the future and it will be interesting to see if NBA teams attempt this same strategy once the season begins.
For now, USA sets their eyes on next year’s Olympic games in Paris. The team will likely look very different as a fourth-place finish certainly signals some changes need to occur. For Reaves, it’s time for some much-needed rest as Lakers’ training camp and the regular season is just around the corner.
You can follow Edwin on Twitter at @ECreates88.