Photo Couresy of:

Canada basketball
Holly MacKenzie

Canada meet Slovenia on Wednesday for spot in World Cup semifinal

MANILA, Philippines (Sept. 5, 2023) –  For Canada's Senior Men's National Team — it's simple. Win and you're in.

Who: Canada (4-1) vs. Slovenia (4-1) 

When: Wednesday, Sept. 6, 8:30 a.m. ET / 5:30 a.m. PT

Where: Mall of Asia Arena- Manila, Philippines

Things to know heading into Wednesday's game against Slovenia

- Quarterfinals: Wednesday’s game will kick off Canada’s quarterfinals experience at the FIBA Men’s Basketball World Cup 2023 after the team defeated reigning Men's Basketball World Cup champion Spain in an 88-85 thriller on Sunday. It was a come-from-behind victory for Canada who started the fourth quarter trailing by 12 until Dillon Brooks and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander took over and ignited the comeback.

- One for the books: Dillon Brooks was at his absolute best as Canada needed him most. WIth the team trailing 73-61 to start the fourth, Brooks opened the quarter with a three-pointer to get Canada back within single digits. It was his first of three makes from downtown in the quarter as the 27-year-old saved his best for last, scoring 11 of his 22 points in the final frame while picking up steals and forcing turnovers on the defensive end to create extra possessions for Canada down the stretch.

“It was special,” Shai Gilgeous-Alexander said of Brooks’ fourth quarter. “One for the books. He’s a leader. He does the right things on the basketball floor. He plays with the right energy. He’s a guy you always want on your team. Things haven’t been going his way the whole tournament, the past month and a half, but he’s had the right energy, he’s done the right things for the team and he was rewarded tonight by the basketball gods. He was big that whole fourth quarter. He made shots, played defensively like he normally does. He was ready for the moment. Big-time game.”

- Superstar Shai: While Brooks brought Canada back against Spain, Gilgeous-Alexander took them home as he scored Canada’s final eight points of the game. He scored or assisted on the team’s final 17 points of the game and was a perfect 6-for-6 from the free-throw line in the final minute as he finished with a game-high 30 points on 7-for-12 field goals while making 14-of-16 free throws to go with seven assists, four rebounds and three steals in 37 minutes. Through five games, Gilgeous-Alexander is averaging 23.8 points, 6.6 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 1.6 steals in 29.2 minutes per contest. He has scored at least 25 points and had at least five assists in three games, something that hasn’t been done more in World Cup competition in 30 years. His performance against Spain was another reminder that one of the greatest basketball players on this planet wears a Team Canada uniform. 

Extra assists:

- Luka time: While Canada has Gilgeous-Alexander leading the way, Slovenia goes as Luka Doncic goes. With a 4-1 record entering Wednesday’s game – their lone loss a 100-71 decision against Germany on Sunday – Doncic has been Slovenia’s leader across the board, averaging team-highs in points (27.8), rebounds (7.4), assists (6.8) and steals (2.4) in 30.6 minutes per game. Canada will have to try to keep Doncic off the line where he is leading the event with 11.8 free throws attempted per game. After getting in early foul trouble in their last two games, Canada will also want to prevent picking up unnecessary fouls.

- Battle on the boards: Though Canada is averaging more rebounds per game (38.6) than Slovenia (37.0), no other team is averaging a higher percentage of defensive rebounds (76.3 percent) in the tournament than Slovenia. After Doncic’s team-leading 7.4 rebounds, Mike Tobey is averaging 6.4 rebounds per game. For Canada, Team Captain Kelly Olynyk is averaging 5.4 rebounds after Gilgeous-Alexander’s team-best 6.6 rebounds per game, while RJ Barrett averages 4.2 rebounds and Dwight Powell is averaging 4.0 rebounds per game. 

- Win to advance: This will be the first quarter-final match played by Canada at a World Cup, while Slovenia is playing in their third quarter-final after losing in 2014 to the USA and 2010 against Turkey. With four wins at the 2023 FIBA Men’s Basketball World Cup, Canada has only ever recorded more victories once, when they had five victories in 1986. At this stage in the World Cup, the goal is simple: Win and advance to the semifinals.

- Where to watch: Fans in Canada can catch all of the action live on Sportsnet, as well as streaming on SN Now.