The experience of Spain will therefore not have been enough to face the youth and Canadian enthusiasm. Long heroic, tenacious, the Spaniards lost Sunday evening in Jakarta (Indonesia), in what will probably remain one of the most beautiful matches of the competition (88-85). Even before the quarter-finals, the defending champion is thus eliminated from the World Cup, and will see his successor lift the trophy next Sunday in Manila (Philippines).
In a crazy atmosphere, a sold-out Indonesia Arena, this game, transformed into the round of 16 before the hour, was played under the sign of the seesaw. That of the public first. 12,500 fans who, for ten days, had been totally committed to the Canadian cause and who, over the course of the game, changed sides, charmed by the abnegation and Iberian tenacity. The stunning finale finally brought fans to their senses, who were just waiting to see some brilliant action.
Last quarter of an hour of madness
Before being served, they saw Spain stand up to the squad led by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (30 points), Dillon Brooks (22 points) or RJ Barrett (16 points). First in a first quarter that set an intense pace on the game (21-21, 10th), then in the second, where technical domination took over the approximations of the Canadians (27-17, 48-38 at the break).
The inversion of the reports, against a background of more direct play for the protégés of Jordi Fernandez – Spanish coach of Canada – then allowed the North Americans to pick up (55-55, 27th), suggesting that their physical domination and the impossibility to hold “SGA” were going to be beneficial to them. But Spain is not a team that tends to lower its head and thanks to several baskets from Santiago Aldama – great support from Willy Hernangomez (25 points), former teammate of Brooks in Memphis (NBA), allowed the Spaniards to take up a small mattress before a last quarter of madness (73-61, 30th).
A first since 1982
Back to the wall, the Canadians then embarked on a long and sublime comeback, only validated one minute from time when Brooks, with a winning shot, equalized (80-80, 39th). It was then time for Gilgeous-Alexander to raise his level of play: the leader of the Oklahoma City Thunder scored the last eight points for his team, including a “step back” (82-80) which had allowed his team to not never again be taken back.
In the game of timeouts and fouls, Canada did not waver, and obtained the right to play its first World Cup final phase since 1982 but also the 2024 Olympics, which has not happened to it since 2000. Spain , she was deprived of knockout matches for the first time since 1998. This 2023 World Cup, at the level which has never seemed so homogeneous – which the first defeat of the United States had suggested earlier in the evening – promises thrilling quarter-finals.