The elite eight of basketball have been decided as the quarter finals of the 2023 FIBA World Cup get under way. The last game of the quarter final sees Luka Doncic and Slovenia challenge Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Canada.
Who: Canada (4-1) vs Slovenia (4-1)
Where: Mall of Asia Arena, Manila
When: 6 September at 20.40 Manila/14.40 Ljubjana/13.40 London/8.40 Toronto
How they got here
Canada destroyed all before them in the group stage with big wins over France, Latvia, and Lebanon. They then suffered a shock defeat to Brazil before bouncing back with some big time play by Shai-Gilgeous Alexander to beat reigning World and EuroBasket champions Spain.
Slovenia won its first four games, thanks largely to the magic of Luka Doncic. The 2017 EuroBasket champions beat Georgia, Cape Verde, Venezuela, and Australia to open the tournament in style. With a place in the quarter finals already secured, Slovenia suffered a heavy defeat to Germany in its last game.
Kelly Olynk vs Mike Tobey will be the battle to watch here in terms of deciding the game. Whoever can make the most of the paint at both ends will surely give their side a big advantage.
After that it’s Doncic vs everyone, from SGA to Dillon Brooks and RJ Barrett. Canada has a very impressive roster and one that might well be built to go all the way in Manila.
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Need to know
Slovenia has been much smarter with its usage of Luka Doncic at this tournament than it was at EuroBasket 2022. At that tournament, Doncic starred but his usage rate was ludicrous and it led to a shocking exit at the hands of Poland. Whereas he barely rested at that event, he has played roughly 30 minutes in every game here despite the absence of Goran Dragic and Vlatko Cancar. Slovenia have saved him for the big games.
We all knew Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was a top tier player coming into this tournament but he has grown into a true leader for Canada and has been their top performer in terms of points, rebounds, assists, and efficiency. Getting SGA in positions where he can contribute is the difference between Canada looking at the medal rounds and having gone home early.
Canada secured its place in the Olympics with its win over Spain, as one of the top 2 teams from the Americas. Slovenia can secure a place in Paris 2024 but it has to win here to have a chance to do so as only the top 2 European sides get automatic spots there next summer.
What the bookies think
Canada are 1/4 favourites for this one, which is a little heavier than I expected and probably giving a bit too much weight to Slovenia getting shellacked by Germany. Slovenia meanwhile are available at 10/3, which is extremely generous. The points spread has Canada as -8.5 favourites which, again, seems a little generous to me.
What we think
Get ready for a very different approach to Luka Doncic and Mike Tobey’s minutes. They will rest rarely in this one as Slovenia will look to run both of them as hard as they can to compete with Canada. Timeouts from Slovenia will be as much to give both men a breather as they will be to make tactical switches.
This Canada team looks more than capable of going all the way and winning the 2023 FIBA World Cup but I would have been worried if it got to this stage with a perfect record. That defeat to Brazil hardened the team and that showed in the win over Spain. They are playing a FIBA style of basketball and that, coupled with their overall talent advantage, will stand to them.
I’m taking Canada to win here. They have been knocked down and shown they can get back up. Slovenia will scare them though so I’d advise them on the points, if you are into that.