Canada, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander stomp France in a statement win to open the FIBA ​​World Cup

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Two teams stood out as the biggest threats to Team USA at the FIBA ​​World Cup, and sure enough, they came to an end on the first day of the tournament. In one corner was France, the reliable contender who pushed Team USA to the brink of the Olympics and ended up six points short of the gold medal. In the other? An incredible threat in Canada, which has never won in the World Cup and has not reached the Olympics since 2000.

What Canada lacks in experience, it more than makes up for in talent. Led by All-Star point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, the Canadiens brought seven NBA players to the tournament: Gilgeous-Alexander, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Lu Dort, Dwight Powell, RJ Barrett, Kelly Olynyk and Dillon Brooks. That talent won on Friday against a French team that many expect to win a medal at this tournament.

France led for most of the first half, and Canada only trailed by three points, 43-40, when both sides returned to the locker rooms for halftime. But the second half was a different story. Canada outscored France 52-22 in the final two frames to claim a 95-65 victory. As expected, Gilgeous-Alexander led the way with 27 points, 13 rebounds and six assists.

The move immediately puts France on the back foot. In the opening round of the competition, teams will be placed in groups of four with the top two teams advancing. Not only did Canada have a big win over France, but the nature of the win could be important from a tiebreaker perspective. Canada and France should both be favored over Latvia and Lebanon, the two remaining teams in Group H, but Latvia’s 39-point win over Lebanon could also come into play from a perspective tiebreaker.

Although France is far from out and Canada has a long way to go, the victory represents a changing of the guard to some degree. France’s three NBA players (Rudy Gobert, Evan Fournier and Nicolas Batum) are all in their 30s, but Canada’s best players are all very young. It is clear that France has a young star in Victor Wembanyama waiting in the wings, but the face of international basketball is changing. The top French and Spanish teams of the past decade are starting to age, and new competitors are starting to emerge.

Canada is not at full strength in this tournament either. Jamal Murray was originally scheduled to play in the World Cup, but recovery from his tournament ultimately ruled him out. Brandon Clarke’s season-ending injury cost him a chance to represent Canada as well, and Andrew Wiggins’ status remains an ongoing question for Team Canada. This is a group loaded with young NBA talent, and if a win like Friday is any indication, it will be a serious threat on the international stage for years to come.

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