Canada beat Slovenia to end Luka Doncic’s Basketball World Cup dream and reach the semi-finals for the first time on Wednesday, while Germany overcame a poor effort on offence to join them in the final four.
Canada outbattled a Slovenia team led by Dallas Mavericks superstar Doncic 100-89 in Manila to set up a showdown with Serbia on Friday.
Germany will face the United States in the semi-finals the same day after beating giant-killers Latvia.
Germany and Serbia also qualified for the Paris Olympics as the two highest-placed European teams at the World Cup, with Slovenia and Latvia eliminated.
Doncic was thrown out of the game in the fourth quarter against Canada after picking up his second technical foul.
Canada’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander said his team were not satisfied with what they achieved and set his sights higher than the semi-finals.
“Just putting on the jersey is an honour in itself, and to win is another good feeling,”
“We’re not satisfied. We want to win gold.”Said Gilgeous-Alexander, who scored 31 points and had 10 rebounds and four assists.
Canada came through a bruising encounter that saw both Doncic and Dillon Brooks ejected in the fourth quarter.
Brooks was engaged in a running battle with Doncic the entire game, using defensive tricks to throw the Slovenian star off rhythm.
Doncic admitted that his emotions got the better of him and vowed to “be better for my team” in the future.
“I think everybody knows what the frustration was,”
“Playing for the national team, there’s a lot of emotions.
“A lot of times I have to control myself, which I’m having problems with.”He said.
The two teams were locked at 50-50 at the half-time break.
Canada began to edge ahead after the interval, helped by a timely three-pointer from Brooks that gave his team a seven-point lead.
Centre Kelly Olynyk said the semi-final against Serbia would be “another battle”.
“We’re trying to do something that Canada basketball has never done, and we’ve got to do it together,”
“We’ve got two more games and we’ve just got to keep playing the way we play.”He said.
Germany end Latvia’s run
Earlier in the day, Germany ended Latvia’s dream run at the tournament with a nervy 81-79 win to squeeze into the semi-finals and a clash with the US.
Debutants Latvia had already beaten defending champions Spain and Tokyo Olympics silver-medalists France on their way to the quarter-finals.
Germany head coach Gordon Herbert said his team had “a little bit of a stinker on the offensive end”, with playmaker Dennis Schroder scoring only four of his 26 field-goal attempts.
“That’s probably the worst game I ever played in my career,”
“But we’re still in the semi-finals so shout out to all these guys in the locker room for helping me win this game.
“That’s the reason why we’re all together and we’re a special team.”Said Schroder.
Latvia gave the unbeaten Germans a fright by jumping out to a 10-point lead after only five minutes, with Davis Bertans in deadly form from three-point range.
Germany eventually gained the upper hand before a barn-storming finish from Latvia made the score closer than Germany would have liked.
“I think one of the strengths of this group is we’re a team, and our bench the last three or four games has been outstanding,”
“We’re able to play 12 guys if necessary.”Said Herbert.
Bertans said he was extremely proud of Latvia’s performance.
“We battled in every single game,”
“I think we put ourselves in a position to win, not because of any individual players — because we played like a team, we played the right way and unfortunately we couldn’t get it done at the end.”Said Bertans, whose brother Dairis — the team captain — suffered a tournament-ending injury in the first round.