MANILA, Philippines — Dillon Brooks went from receiving boos earlier in the tournament to hearing MVP chants. And he thanked his haters after a scintillating performance.
Brooks had a game-high 39 points in leading Canada to its first-ever medal at the FIBA Men's Basketball World Cup with a 127-118 overtime win over the U.S. in the bronze-medal game Sunday.
The Mississauga, Ont., native's output set a Canadian single-game scoring record for most points in a FIBA World Cup, topping Carl Ridd's mark of 37 in 1954.
Brooks went 7-of-8 from three-point range and 12-of-18 overall from the field. The Houston Rockets forward was also named defensive player of the tournament.
"I just appreciate you," Brooks said at the post-game press conference. "From the beginning, everyone that was throwing shots on (X, formerly known as Twitter), Instagram, watching me play but it just helps me get better each and every day."
"Just happy to be able to put this jersey on," he said when asked about his performance and the game. "I missed a couple of qualifiers and windows and I'm just happy to be here with my teammates … and represent my country, for the Canadians out there."
Canada's head coach Jordi Fernandez was quick to praise Brooks for his work.
"Really proud of Dillon. This is how it looks like when they let Dillon Brooks play," he said. "And it's not just on the defensive end. With Lu (Dort), he's the best perimeter defender in the World Cup."
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander finished with 31 points, six rebounds and a game-high 12 assists for Canada, with RJ Barrett adding another 23 points and seven rebounds.
Gilgeous-Alexander was named a tournament all-star after the Oklahoma City Thunder guard boasted averages of 24.5 points, 6.4 rebounds, 6.4 assists, and 1.6 steals per game.
The medal was Canada's first on either the World Cup or Olympic stage since 1936 when Canada earned silver at the Berlin Games.
"The medal means a lot to the guys, the program, the board, the country, everybody, coaches," Fernandez said. "I think that an accomplishment like this, you don't know what it is until you do it.
"What you went through together for all these days and wins and losses and the emotions, it's just very different. They will never know, we are the only ones that know. All these relations that we've built are gonna stay there forever."
Fernandez, an assistant coach with the NBA's Sacramento Kings, lauded the Canadians for their efforts dating back to training camp in early August.
"This team was amazing, special," said Fernandez, who took over the job in June from Nick Nurse. "It's the beginning of something that is gonna last for a long time and … all 12 guys, came in and worked every single day since Aug. 1 … and they built the identity that we shown resiliency.
"I think we're here showing that we can do great things."
Anthony Edwards led the way for the second-ranked Americans with 24 points, with Austin Reaves adding 23.
The win puts a wrap on a historic run through the tournament for the 15th-ranked Canadians.
Canada made it to the second round of the tournament for the first time since 1998 and placed first in the group phase for the first time.
Canada's win over top-ranked defending champion Spain in the second round earned qualification for the Paris 2024 Games, ending an Olympic drought dating back to 2000.
It was also the first time since 1994 that Canada advanced to the World Cup quarterfinals.
The Canadians' semifinal loss to sixth-ranked Serbia on Friday was their first appearance in the final four.
Brooks credited the defeat for the extra motivation.
"Just a tough loss to Serbia and around the locker room, we really wanted to play the U.S. and we got our wish," he said. "I sent in the group chat that, 'We got what we wanted, let's be ready to play.'
"And I'm just feeling really good … Having that edge every single game and remembering how I prepared for the game, how I was trying to be a leader for my teammates."
Germany defeated Serbia 83-77 for its first-ever World Cup gold medal Sunday.
The U.S. fell to 11th-ranked Germany in Friday's other semifinal.
Canada entered the fourth quarter up 91-82 after the U.S. trimmed the lead to just two entering halftime.
After a three-point play from Kelly Olynyk that put Canada up 10, the Americans stole the momentum with a 12-0 run to take the lead with 6:23 remaining.
With 34 seconds left, Gilgeous-Alexander hit a go-ahead jumper for Canada to lead 109-107.
A pair of free throws from Brooks — who received one of multiple rounds of MVP chants from the crowd — put Canada up four, but the U.S. struck late again.
Mikal Bridges was fouled with four seconds left and made the first attempt. But he missed the second, corralled the rebound and hit a tough fadeaway three with 0.6 seconds left.
Canada got one more possession but Olynyk missed a fadeaway three-point attempt, sending it to overtime.
In extra time, Gilgeous-Alexander put Canada ahead by six with a personal 7-1 run.
Barrett later put Canada up 124-115 with a straightaway three with 44 seconds left to seal it.
The Canadians held the Americans to just one field goal in overtime, a Reaves three with 22 seconds left.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 10, 2023.
— By Abdulhamid Ibrahim in Toronto
The Canadian Press