Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has separated himself from the field in the race for World Cup MVP, writes Michael Grange of Sportsnet. The Thunder guard had 31 points and 10 rebounds Wednesday against Slovenia and has been outstanding while leading Canada to its first semifinals appearance in tournament history.
Among those impressed by SGA’s exploits is Canadian star Steve Nash, who served as general manager of the national team and had him on the roster for an Olympic qualifying tournament in 2016. Although Gilgeous-Alexander was just a teenager at the time and barely played, Nash could tell he had the potential to become something special.
“I mean, he’s got it, right?” Nash said. “He has the game, the feel, the understanding of his responsibility in the moment. It’s just a beautiful thing when you have a player like that in your arsenal.”
There’s more on the World Cup:
- Canadian coach Jordi Fernandez credited Dillon Brooks for his strong defensive effort against Luka Doncic in the win over Slovenia, per Aris Barkas of Eurohoops. The Slovenians were upset by some of Brooks’ tactics before both players were ejected in the fourth quarter, but Fernandez doesn’t mind if Brooks takes the same approach in the semifinals against Serbia. “If they complain, they complain,” he said. “We have to play our game and we have to keep our composure, so we can control what we can control. I think yesterday we did a great job as a team defensively and especially Dillon put on a defensive clinic and it should be in a FIBA museum at some point.”
- Doncic was upset at not getting more foul calls and gestured toward FIBA officials during the game, but he and Slovenia remain on good terms with the organization, Barkas adds in a separate story. Doncic downplayed the incident in a post-game press conference, according to Barkas, and Slovenian Federation president Matej Erjavec sat with FIBA secretary general Andreas Zaglis for Thursday’s contest against Lithuania.
- Franz Wagner is confident that German teammate Dennis Schroder will bounce back in Friday’s semifinal meeting with Team USA after shooting 4-of-26 from the field against Latvia, relays George Efkarpidis of Eurohoops. Wagner also discussed the ankle injury that sidelined him for much of the tournament before he returned for the quarterfinals. “We tried to do as much rehab, icing, all that stuff as much as possible, and I think we did a really good job,” Wagner said. “And then the last week or so, I started working out on the court and was able to do a little bit more. I did a bunch of conditioning stuff, too, just so I can play again.”