Small forward Dillon Brooks said Canada would take “good momentum” into next year’s Paris Olympics after beating the United States to win bronze at the Basketball World Cup on Sunday.
Canada won 127-118 in overtime in Manila to claim their first World Cup podium finish, denying the United States a medal for a second straight tournament.
Canada had already qualified for their first Olympics since 2000 by finishing as one of the two highest-placed teams from the Americas at the World Cup.
Brooks, who finished the game as Canada’s top scorer with 39 points, said the medal would fuel their ambitions when the new NBA season starts next month.
“It’s good momentum for us, we’ll hold on to that throughout the season,” he said.
“I’m going to see a lot of my team-mates during the season.
“Guys that weren’t here, that’s motivating to them as well, to want to join us, to get better, to make a run at the Olympics.”
Canada led for most of the game and built double-digit leads in both the first and third quarters.
They looked to have the game won until the United States’ Mikal Bridges hit a game-tying three-pointer with 0.2sec remaining.
Canada quickly took control in overtime, with Brooks and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in imperious form.
“This team was amazing, special, it’s the beginning of something that’s going to last for a long time,” said head coach Jordi Fernandez.
“All 12 guys came in and worked every day since August 1, they got at least 1 percent better every day.
“They built the identity that we just showed.”
Fernandez said Gilgeous-Alexander, who scored 31 points, was “to me the MVP of this World Cup”.
Bridges called Canada’s point guard a “slithery” player to defend.
“He knows how to get away from you,” Bridges said of Gilgeous-Alexander.
“He’s an unbelievable player.”
Fernandez paid tribute to Brooks’s leadership after the Houston Rockets player helped keep the United States’ stars quiet while scoring points at the other end.
Brooks was booed by the Manila crowd earlier in the tournament but they serenaded him with chants of “MVP” against the United States.
Brooks said he was determined to help the team win after losing in the semi-finals to Serbia.
“Having that edge every single game, how I prepared for the game, how I was trying to be a leader out there for my team-mates, I’ve got to bring this back to Houston,” he said.
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