A game that started out as an exciting back and forth battle, diverged into an ugly game with so much ref chatter.
All the attention coming into this quarterfinals matchup was on the Shai Gilgeous-Alexander vs Luka Doncic showdown. They were both phenomenal carrying the offensive load, but it was Canada’s overwhelming periphery talent that opened the floodgates and helped Canada prevail. The odds prior to the game at bet365 had Canada as the favourites but it was still close in the markets and why many were looking for sportsbook reviews, in order to find the best selection when it came to the winner of the match. That came to fruition, in what turned out to be such a close quarter-finals match between the pair.
Canada’s defensive scheme against Doncic was going to dictate the outcome of this game. In the first quarter Canada was freely switching all on-ball screens involving Luka, which I was not a fan of. Powell, Olynyk and Alexander were left on an island to defend Doncic 1v1 on the perimeter. To my surprise, Luka didn’t eviscerate the switches (he was still fantastic don’t get me wrong) and Alexander especially held up quite well, guarding on the perimeter before recovering and blocking 7-footer Mike Tobey at the rim. On the other end SGA had his best start to a WC game, going 4-5 and scoring 8 early points.
In the second quarter, Canada continued to freely switch, but adjusted and started playing the “shift” defensive scheme on a couple possessions. When Powell switched onto Luka on the perimeter, Canada would bring Dort or Barrett over to double before Luka started his attack, nullifying the mismatch. Thinking Basketball covered the defensive scheme in a brilliant breakdown below.
The other adjustment from Jordi was to lean all-in to the switching scheme. With Dwight Powell in foul trouble, Canada went extra small with a lineup of SGA/NAW/Dort/Barrett/Brooks for extended minutes. Despite all this defensive effort, Slovenia hung around, going 10/17 from 3 in the 1st half.
Canada pulled away in the second half off the back of their starters. Brooks was incredible defending Luka in isolation and Canada’s offense continued to score at an efficient clip, mainly in the form of transition buckets from RJ Barrett. With Brooks and Luka being ejected in the 4th, Canada was able to cruise to a 100-89 victory.
Another fantastic performance from Shai and Canada now has a chance to medal at the World Cup. What a magical run from the SMNT.