MANILA — In and outside the world of sports, there is always a first time.

And for all intents and purposes, that happened for Canada when it mattered most.

Canada achieved a historic milestone by defeating the United States in the FIBA World Cup and clinching a well-deserved bronze medal.

The thrilling victory came in an overtime showdown, where Canada triumphed with a final score of 127-118 over the NBA-laden Team USA before a sellout crowd at the Mall of Asia Arena on Sunday, September 10.

Dillon Brooks and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander were the heroes of the day, leading the charge for the determined Canadian squad.

It was a sweet redemption for Canada, who had previously faced seven consecutive defeats against the American team in World Cup matchups.

This triumph also marked the very first instance where Canada finished higher than the United States in the history of the World Cup.

Gilgeous-Alexander’s clutch performance in the overtime period was pivotal, contributing seven of his 31 points when it mattered most.

Team USA managed to force overtime with a sensational four-point play by Mikal Bridges during the closing moments of regulation, leveling the score at 111-111.

In a high-pressure situation, Brooks delivered his finest performance of the tournament, astonishingly sinking 39 points, with an impressive 7-of-8 shooting from beyond the three-point line.

Serbia, Germany still at it

At press time, Serbia and Germany were still in the thick of things slugging it out for the 2023 FIBA World Cup crown.

Serbia is ranked sixth in the world and has been a consistent contender in international basketball, winning the World Cup in 1998 and 2002 and bagging silver in 2014.

On the other hand, Germany’s best finish in the world’s greatest basketball conclave was third place in the 2002 edition in the USA.

Laden with NBA players, team USA bowed out from title contention after losing 113-111 to Germany in Friday’s semi-finals while Canada sustained a 95-86 debacle against Serbia to also miss a shot of the crown.

Serbia hardly missed top player Nikola Jokic, who recently led the Denver Nuggets to the 2023 NBA championship. He opted not to play in the World Cup due to physical and mental fatigue.

Without Jokic, Serbia swept aside Puerto Rico, South Sudan and China in Group B.

And despite a narrow 78-76 loss to Italy in the second round, a dominant Serbian win over the Dominican Republic punched them a ticket to the knockout rounds, which saw them cruise to victories over Lithuania and a Canadian side featuring NBA stars Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, RJ Barrett and Dillon Brooks.

Germany never suffered a single loss going into the championship.

19h edition of FIBA World Cup

The 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup represented the 19th edition of this prestigious event for men’s national basketball teams.

This edition was notable for several reasons: it was the second to feature 32 teams and marked the first instance of multiple nations hosting the tournament simultaneously.

The hosting duties were shared by the Philippines, Japan, and Indonesia, with the event spanning from August 25th to September 10th, 2023.

This World Cup was particularly significant as it marked Indonesia’s debut as a host nation, while both the Philippines and Japan were hosting for the second time, their previous stints being in 1978 and 2006, respectively.

Notably, this year’s tournament was the second of three consecutive World Cups held in Asia, following China’s hosting of the 2019 edition, and preceding Qatar’s upcoming hosting in 2027.

It also set a unique record in the tournament’s history, as the host nation (Indonesia) did not qualify to participate.

Furthermore, this World Cup achieved a remarkable milestone by becoming the most-attended in history, particularly the Dominican Republic-Philippines game.

Record number of spectators

Held at the cavernous Philippine Arena in Bocaue, the host country and DR’s game drew an impressive crowd of 38,115 spectators, surpassing the previous record of 32,616 set during the 1994 final at the SkyDome in Toronto.

The significance of this tournament extended beyond the competition itself, as it served as a qualification event for the 2024 Summer Olympics.

The top two teams from each of the Americas and Europe, along with the top team from Africa, Asia, and Oceania, earned berths alongside the host nation, France.

In a surprising turn of events, defending champion Spain faced early defeats against Latvia and Canada in the second round, ultimately finishing in 9th place, marking Spain’s first absence from the World Cup Quarter-finals since 1994.

Final Scores:

For Third

Canada 127 – Brooks 39, Gilgeous-Alexander 31, Barrett 23, Olynyk 11, Dort 11, Alexander-Walker 5, Powell 4, Ejim 3, Edey 0, Scrubb 0.

USA 118 – Edwards 24, Reaves 23, Bridges 19, Portis 14, Brunson 13, Hart 10, Haliburton 6, Kessler 6, Johnson 3.

Quarters: 34-25, 58-56, 91-82, 111-111 (reg), 127-118 (OT).