No medals won, but lessons learned for the Canadian women’s basketball team to Tokyo at the AmeriCup

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The big picture is what matters most to the Canadian women’s basketball team with a legitimate Olympic podium race ahead, but there are issues that need to be addressed – and now they know what some of them are. them.

A disappointing streak at the AmeriCup tournament in Puerto Rico ended in a tough 87-82 double-overtime loss to Brazil in the bronze medal game on Saturday night. Disappointing because it’s the first time in 14 years that Canada hasn’t won a medal at the event, and because a few holes have become apparent on the club ranked No.4 in the world.

Missing nine of 17 free throws, giving up 13 offensive rebounds and playing in a 15-point hole in the third quarter are all troubling aspects that will need to be cleaned up before the Tokyo Games start next month.

“It was a great opportunity to assess and, again, see how different players react in the big moments, and we were grateful to have been in a lot of the big moments in the last few days,” said the head coach Lisa Thomaidis after Canada. suffered his second straight loss to end the 10-country tournament.

“It really helps. There’s no way to gauge when it’s breakouts, so we’re glad we had close games. I just wish we were on the winning side.

It wasn’t as if Canada had been blown away by any game and had no confidence in getting into the final weeks of Olympic preparation.

Teens centers Laeticia Amihere and Aaliyah Edwards had some defining moments during the tournament, wing Aislinn Konig was the most effective three-point shooter of the event, and young guards Shaina Pellington and Shay Colley were n ‘ did not seem out of place or implied.

Canada just didn’t shoot well in a Friday loss to Puerto Rico and looked horrible in the third quarter on Saturday against Brazil, but still fought back for a shot at winning in both overtime.

“I think our free throw shot continues to bite our butt here. But from a broader perspective, I think it shows that we have a ton of passion, a ton of heart, a ton of courage and I’m really proud of them, ”said the coach.

Amihere, who finished with 22 points and 11 rebounds, bet on a three-pointer to tie the game with seconds remaining in the fourth quarter and played with a composure that belies his age. The six-foot-two Mississauga product will not be 20 years old until the start of the Olympics.

“(She) was sidelined for a few years to recover from knee injuries, and it’s just great to find her (at) full speed and in great shape,” Thomaidis said of Friend. “Honestly, she’s such a competitor, like many of these players. (She’s) just tough and competitive, and pulled off the three-point shot that tied the game to send her into overtime.

“Just fearless and so young, but certainly don’t play like a youngster.”

The experience this group has gained, playing together as a team for the first time in 16 months, will absolutely help shake off any rust and misunderstanding that has built up during a pandemic-induced disruption. And Canada will eventually be strengthened by the return of veterans who will help calm young players unaccustomed to high pressure international competition.

Veteran guards Kia Nurse and Bridget Carleton are due to join the team in Japan next month for their final Olympic preparation, and Natalie Achonwa is expected to recover from a knee injury and play her third Olympics. Team captain Kim Gaucher, one of the team leaders of the past decade, is still grappling with the decision to compete in the Olympics because she would have to leave her months-old daughter to compete. But any combination of these four elements should help allay any discomfort.

“We’re really at the start of our preparation and it’s going to really identify some gaps and really help us improve because of it,” said Thomaidis.

Fourth place was good enough for Canada to compete in the 2022 FIBA ​​World Cup in Australia next year.

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“We’ve learned a lot and there’s a lot to look forward to,” said veteran guard Jamie Scott.

“Obviously the Olympics this summer, but also the next stop on our trip, the world championships in Australia. I think the future is very bright, and I’m really, really excited about it.

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