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25 August, 2023
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26/08/2023
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Gilgeous-Alexander leading ambitious Canada: ''We have a lot to accomplish still''

JAKARTA (Indonesia) - Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had quite the memorable debut at the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 in a dominant statement victory over France, showing that Canada are for real.

The 25-year-old star treated the fans to a show inside Indonesia Arena and finished with an eye-catching statline of 27 points, 13 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 steals as the TCL Player of the Game. Add in just the solitary turnover, an impressive feat for a player who has the ball in his hands as much as he does.

"YOU GUYS CAN SEE HERE, A GUY THAT IS GOING TO BE THE MVP OF THIS WORLD CUP." - Jordi Fernandez on SGA

 

SGA became only the second player combining for more than 20 points, more than 10 rebounds and more than five assists in a World Cup game over the last 30 years. Andrei Kirilenko produced those stats against Venezuela in 2002. 

There was a lot of expectation on the shoulders of Gilgeous-Alexander coming into the tournament and he duly delivered in style to set Canada in good stead moving forward in Jakarta, but warned of not getting too carried away.

"We did what we came here to do," he said post-game. "It's only one game, we’ve got a lot still to accomplish, but it's a good start. We played really good basketball, we did the right things on both ends of the court for the most part. We know we can beat and play with anyone in the world."


Historically, Canada haven't performed well in previous editions of the World Cup with a combined 4-11 record in their last three appearances having also missed out in 2006 and 2014.

 

 

This exciting, generation, however, is aiming to change that and start a new era that has goals of competing with the best and winning on the international stage. The roster is stacked with talent including seven of the record-breaking number of NBA players and their opening game was an encouraging sign of things to come.

"We have a lot of guys on this team that are hungry, talented and ultimately, just want to win, and when you have those three things, you can do anything," added Gilgeous-Alexander. "We'll be fun to watch because we play hard, play fast, play aggressive and give it everything we got for the fans back home."


Gilgeous-Alexander started the opening game 1-of-8 shooting from the field before exploding in the second half rout. Every time the OKC Thunder guard was sizing up his defender or driving to the basket, the crowd roared in anticipation, and erupted as the points kept coming. Leading from the front when it mattered most.

"A lot of it is just being a leader, doing the right things on and off the court and at the end of the day, just being a good teammate," SGA explained ahead of the tournament. "Obviously, you don't have the longest of time to kind of build relationships with your teammates and earn their trust in that kind of way, so a lot of it is just trying to be a good leader for the group and be the best player I can be on and off the court." 

Head coach Jordi Fernandez had one of the best seats in the house and confidently stated: "You guys can see here, a guy that's going to be MVP of this World Cup. He's going to do it again next game, and next game and the next game."

"He's a great leader, he's vocal and talks a lot," added teammate Dillon Brooks. "He understands to get his teammates involved and then he has the size as a point guard that not a lot of point guards have in this type of game. He's relentless."

Gilgeous-Alexander has the opportunity to be the face and leader of this exciting, new generation for Canada Basketball, and the early indications are that he will take it all in his stride in the pursuit of a historic first-ever medal at a World Cup.

FIBA