With a 101–41 win over the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Canadian’s Senior Women’s National Team is one step closer to stamping their ticket to the FIBA World Cup after 16 months away from the international scene.
Canada opened the scoring with a pair of three-pointers from Shay Colley and Nirra Fields and shot 40 per cent from the perimeter throughout the game but the Canadian squad struggled with turnovers, committing 20 in the game and looked disjointed at times after the long layoff.
“We’re a work in progress for sure,” said head coach Lisa Thomaidis. “The team we are now and the team we’re going to be at the end of the tournament will be much different. It was a great start for us, we really emphasizing getting great shots and ball movement, and I thought we had a great start doing that today.”
Team Canada had six players in double-digit scoring, Shaina Pellington, Aislinn Konig, Aaliyah Edwards, Jamie Scott, Fields and Laeticia Amihere with Pellington leading the way with 16 points. Veteran Kayla Alexander chipped in 10 rebounds for the game and Konig had six assists to go with 12 points.
“I thought we moved the ball pretty well. We’ve got some dynamic players and got into the paint and there was a collapse and kick the ball out. A lot of nice open looks, we were able to get out in transition and get some quick attacks, cause some turn overs and get out for some run outs that way,” said Thomaidis.
Team captain Miranda Ayim added offence wasn’t the focus for the team today, and they weren’t coming into this game thinking everything was going to be refined after 16 months of not playing together.
“We wanted some good defensive stops, making sure our foundation and our habits were really solid for the rest of this tournament,” said Ayim. “As a result, it might not have been as efficient after a year and a half of not playing together…that gives us a lot of room to build and progress for the rest of the tournament.”
The AmeriCup is serving a dual purpose this year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the tournament is taking place during an Olympic year after the 2020 Tokyo games were postponed by the Japanese government and International Olympic Committee in March 2020.
While the Canadian Senior Men’s National Team will be looking to make the Olympics at the Olympic Qualifiers in Victoria, B.C. starting on June 29, the Canadian women qualified last year in Ostend, Belgium with an 80-50 victory over Sweden. Six members of that team are returning for the AmeriCup, with Kia Nurse, Bridget Carleton and Olympic Qualifier tournament all-star Natalie Achonwa joining the team when the WNBA takes its Olympic break in July.
Even with the win, Ayim kept everything in perspective for herself and her teammates.
“On a zoomed out aspect, we know we’re lucky to be even doing our job right now, a lot of people aren’t as fortunate so the fact that we’re able to get together and play, that’s been pretty incredible,” said Ayim.
“Obviously whenever you put Canada on, it’s something else.”
Canada will be playing one of the top teams in the AmeriCup tournament tomorrow at 3:10 p.m. est. when they face Brazil who beat El Salvador 118-43 on Friday night. The game can be seen on the DAZN online platform.
Canada vs. U.S. Virgin Islands BOXSCORE