After being apart for 16 months Team Canada is leaving the 2021 Women’s AmeriCup without a medal after an 87-82 double-overtime loss to Brazil.
“These close games are really a gift for us to be in, to be honest,” said Canadian head coach Lisa Thomaidis. “We’re certainly disappointed that we didn’t come out on the winning end but it shows a lot about our team, they fought hard, hard, hard, they showed a lot of passion and a lot of grit today.
The first half marked a return to form for the Canadian team that struggled to find the mark from deep against Puerto Rico as they shot 50 per cent from beyond the three-point arc but they ran cold again in the third quarter as they were unable to take advantage of Brazil’s zone defence.
Canada was able to claw back into the game in the fourth quarter with fast-break buckets and converting on free throws. Laeticia Amihere banked in a three-point shot with 27 seconds remaining to send it to overtime – the first of the entire tournament – but Canada wasn’t able to find Amihere help in the second overtime period.
“It’s great to have (Amihere) back full speed and full form,” said Thomaidis. “Fearless, and so young, but certainly doesn’t play like a young one. Real happy with how she did at this tournament.”
Amihere led all scorers with 22 points and 11 rebounds, Kayla Alexander had 13 points and four rebounds and Shaina Pellington had 12 points, four rebounds and two assists.
Brazil was once again led by their big pairing of Erika De Souza, who had 10 points and eight rebounds, and Clarissa Dos Santos who scored 19 points and grabbed five boards. Taniá Paixão added 19 points and seven assists.
As the team returns to Tampa to prepare for the Tokyo Olympics, they’ll be receiving some more help in the form of the WNBA talent that was unable to attend this tournament. Phoenix Mercury guard Kia Nurse and Minnesota Lynx forward Bridget Carleton will see two of the major players from the Olympic Qualifying tournament added to the roster.
Possible additions to the team include captain Kim Gaucher who continues to mull a return after giving birth. Natalie Achonwa’s availability is still uncertain after spraining her medial collateral ligament earlier this month which means the starting frontcourt pairing of Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe and Alexander may be returning to action in Tokyo.
“(This tournament) was a great opportunity to evaluate and see how different players respond in big moments and we were thankful that there were in a lot of big moments,” said Thomaidis. “It really helps, there’s no way we can evaluate when they’re blow outs.”
The team will be travelling to Japan with 16 players before cutting the roster down to 12.
The Canadian senior women’s national team will be back in action on July 26 when they face Serbia in Group A action at the Olympics.
Canada vs. Brazil boxscore click HERE
Photo Courtesy FIBA