With Team USA wish granted, Dillon Brooks plays best game for Canada bronze
MANILA, Philippines — After getting ousted by Serbia in the Fiba World Cup semifinal, Canada was hoping to face Team USA in the bronze medal game.
The Canadians got what they wanted when the United States was upset by eventual World Cup winner Germany.
Canada rose to the challenge and outlasted the US in a thrilling 127-118 win in overtime on Sunday night at Mall of Asia Arena.
Perhaps, no one was raring to face Team USA and its assembly of NBA rising stars more than Dillon Brooks.
“Around the locker room, we really wanted to play US, and we got our wish. Germany played a great game and found a way to beat them. I sent in the group chat that we got what we wanted and let’s be ready to play,” Brooks said in the postgame press conference.
Although Brooks was looking forward to facing his former Memphis Grizzlies teammate Jaren Jackson Jr., who sat out along with Paolo Banchero and Brandon Ingram due to illness.
The 27-year-old Houston Rockets forward delivered a performance to remember with 39 points on 7-of-8 three-point shooting as Canada made the World Cup podium for the first time.
“I was just feeling really good. I really wanted to play against Jaren Jackson, Jr., but I don’t know what happened to him. I hope he’s alright. Having that edge every single game, remembering how I prepared for the game, how I was trying to be a leader for my teammates. I got to bring this back to Houston,” Brooks said.
“I love playing against Jaren. It’s just the Memphis connection. I’ve been talking about this since the season. First, it was Santi [Aldama] with Spain. To be able to play against guys you worked with for like two to three years, me, Jaren,” he added.
Brooks, who scored the most points in the World Cup medal game, said his near-perfect clip from downtown was a product of his long hours in the gym and consistent shooting routine.
“I’ve just been countlessly working on it, paying real attention to it, even before we started working as a team in Team Canada. I feel like that is what I was missing. In Toronto, they got this machine that helps you with your arc. I just had that number in my head every single time. Every single time I just kept thinking, working at it, and just feel it out, feel it out, and be relentless shooting the basketball,” Brooks said.
“After every practice, I’m just shooting with Lu [Dort]. Seven spots, competitions, just trying to take it to another level, and just being patient with it. It just comes out. I never wanted to force shots or hunt it. That was one of my roles on this team is to get a good shot selection. I feel like I did a pretty good job this World Cup.”
Brooks is honored to represent Canada after missing a couple of games in the qualifiers and windows. And he is eager to be a part of the team in next year’s Paris Olympics.
“It’s good momentum for us to hold on to that throughout this season. I’m going to see a lot of my teammates during this season and guys who were here, and that’s just motivating to them to re-up and get better, to make a run in these Olympics,” he said. “As I said before, we got great players, a great coach, he has great schemes, he is very patient, finding a way to motivate us every day. You don’t get paid for the sacrifice.”