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Team USA loses OT thriller to Canada in World Cup bronze medal game

MANILA, Philippines — An NBA game broke out at the FIBA World Cup on Sunday, with Team USA and Team Canada falling into the high-octane, free-flowing, star vs. star game they are so comfortable with in a fun goodbye to the league-obsessed Filipinos.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander played his superstar role, scoring seven of his 31 points to start overtime and eventually power Canada’s 127-118 victory to claim the bronze medal.

Canada also got a statement game, loudly and unexpectedly from Dillon Brooks, who scored 39 points as part of a shooting masterpiece.

Mikal Bridges provided an iconic moment for Team USA when he finished a jaw-dropping 4-point play by missing a free throw on purpose, chasing down the rebound and then spinning and firing in a 3-pointer with 0.6 seconds left in the fourth quarter to forge a miraculous tie. Bridges had 19 points and gave everything he had defending Gilgeous-Alexander all evening.

It was only a reprieve, though. The memory of this day will be more enjoyed by the Canadians, who won their first major international medal in 87 years. The last time Canada took home basketball hardware was silver at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

The U.S. failed to medal in its second consecutive World Cup, the first time that’s happened since 1970. The Americans were hampered by not having starting center Jaren Jackson Jr. and reserves Brandon Ingram and Paolo Banchero due to illness.

Team USA limped to the finish, losing three of its last four games. The defense crumbled along the way, first because of extra possessions allowed by offensive rebounds and eventually falling under a crushing barrage of 3-pointers as the Americans struggled to get out to shooters as they tried to pack the paint.

Including the 2019 World Cup and the 2021 Olympics, where Team USA won gold, the Americans have now lost seven times. The roster this summer that focused on quickness and versatility has simply proven to be ineffective.

Executive director Grant Hill, general manager Sean Ford and coach Steve Kerr felt good about the team’s prospects and had reason to after a good pre-tournament performance. But they will have to return to the drawing board, and the star player recruiting trail, for next year’s Paris Olympics.

Eventually Kerr, determined to make small ball work, decided to start playing five guards and wings with the “big man” being 6-foot-5 Josh Hart. When Hart fouled out, Kerr replaced him with 6-foot-1 Jalen Brunson to go even smaller. Kerr played most of the game’s last 10 minutes this way and nearly pulled out the win.

At that point, though, it would’ve felt like an upset.

Brooks’ final three games in Manila were strong at both ends. The Americans know Brooks’ reputation as an inconsistent outside shooter, but it proved to be a mistake to give him space. He made 6 of 8 3-pointers and scored 21 points in a sizzling first half, galloping and chirping all the way as is his trademark.

The crowd, which had jeered him earlier in the week because he’s a rival of their beloved Los Angeles Lakers, flipped and was giving Brooks “MVP” chants at several points.

Brooks also fought Anthony Edwards on defense, and their fight against each other delighted the crowd. Edwards finished with 24 points in what was a strong overall showing in the World Cup.

Austin Reaves closed his excellent offensive tournament with 23 points for Team USA, while RJ Barrett added 23 points for Canada.

This story originally appeared on ESPN

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