The playoffs » Canada coach praises Shai-Barrett duo after qualifying, berates Brooks for sending off »

After an impressive victory against Slovenia this Wednesday (6), in a match valid for the quarter-finals of the 2023 Basketball World Cup, coach Jordi Fernandez, of the Canadian national team, wanted to salute the work of its athletes. In an interview after the match, the Spaniard praised the duo Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and RJ Barrett, also taking the opportunity to give Dillon Brooks a slight earshot, sent off in the last quarter for committing the second technical foul.

The new Houston Rockets winger was ejected from the game with more than seven minutes remaining as Canada led 92-76. Asked about the ejection, Fernandez said, “He has to be better. We need him on the pitch. You cannot be expelled. As a team, we have to have a better level of composure. At the end of the game, Brooks starred in a curious scene. The player was standing in the locker room access tunnel, wearing boxing gloves, waiting for his teammates to arrive.

Despite the reprimands, the Canadian commander also credited Brooks for a great job scoring Luka Doncic. The tournament’s leading scorer, the Dallas Mavericks fullback scored 26 points, but also committed three turnovers and had just 28.6 percent use from the perimeter. He also ended up being expelled a few seconds after his rival, after allegedly complaining to the referee.

“But I think Dillon Brooks and Lu Dort are the best perimeter defenders in the competition. I think today was a defensive clinic, challenging opponents, keeping hands active and putting pressure all over the pitch. And if you don’t think like that, you don’t like basketball”, completed Fernández.

The Spaniard was also keen to highlight another fine display from Shai. One of the best players in the competition so far, the Oklahoma City Thunder point guard finished with 31 points. However, his efforts on the rebounds and his care with the ball were more praised by Fernandez.

“Everyone sees Shai’s score, which is good. But he led the team and the game in rebounds. He had ten rebounds and four assists with just one turnover. And he made eight of 12 baskets. He dominated the game by creating plays, scoring points, finishing possessions or offensive rebounds. He also led our team in offensive rebounding. I think that’s the most impressive thing.”

After having produced his best game in the Cup, with 24 points and nine rebounds, Barrett was also applauded by the coach: “I am very proud of RJ. […] I’m very proud of RJ, how aggressive he was, how he ran the field, how he fought for rebounds. He led the team in defensive rebounding, along with Shai. This helped the team launch counterattacks and play fast. RJ did his job at a high level, and that’s one of the reasons we won the game.

Fernandez, who is currently Mike Brown’s assistant coach with the Sacramento Kings and a top candidate for NBA head coach, took over as Canada’s coach in late June, replacing Nick Nurse, and is already accumulating good results. At the head of a talented generation, he reached, for the first time in the history of the country, a semi-final of the World Cup. The title fight continues Friday, when the Canadians take on Serbia at 5:45 a.m. Brasilia time.

(Photo: Reproduction/FIBA)

Laura Davis

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