Canadian Senior Women's Basketball Olympic Team Preview
Taking a closer look at the Canadian Senior Women's Basketball Team as the Olympic Basketball Tournament tips off this weekend
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The Olympics officially start today and the Canadian Senior Women’s Basketball team is set to make their Olympic appearance on Monday against the Serbian National Team at 5:20 pm local time (4:20 am EST). The Canadians are hoping to earn a medal this year after coming up short in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics.
Entering Tokyo, the Canadians are ranked fourth in the world and will have ample opportunity to prove themselves against the other countries competing. They have loaded their roster with six returning players and six Olympic rookies. The breakdown of the roster can be found here.
Kim Gaucher is the oldest player on the team at 37 years old and will be looked upon as one of the leaders on the team to help guide them during the games. Miranda Ayim, the second oldest on the team, at age 33, will also look to provide veteran experience and be looked upon to lead the team wherever she is needed. Ayim was recently chosen as one of Team Canada’s flag-bearers for the opening ceremony.
Team Canada tips off their group play against quality opponents and it will not be an easy task. They are placed in Group A, and as mentioned above, face Serbia in their first game in group play. Serbia is currently ranked eighth in the world and have Sonja Vasic on their team leading them. Vasic was named MVP of the FIBA Women’s Eurobasket 2021 after Serbia’s victory. She also has the honor of being named one of Serbia’s flag-bearers for the opening ceremony.
Canada also faces South Korea who are ranked nineteenth in the world on July 28th and to finish off group play, they face Spain on July 31st. Spain is one of the toughest countries to face because they are currently ranked third in the world. They have Astou Ndour-Fall and Alba Torrens leading them. It will be tough because Spain has players on the team that are dynamic playmakers with a ton of international/WNBA experience (Astou Ndour-Fall, Maite Cazorla).
Team Canada will have to rely on their Olympic rookies, but make no mistake, they may be “rookies”, but they bring significant international/WNBA/NCAA women’s college basketball experience with them. Players such as Kayla Alexander, Bridget Carleton, Shaina Pellington, Laeticia Amihere will be prepared and ready to play.
Every team in the Olympic tournament has at least one star or recognizable face to the casual viewer. In Team Canada’s case, it is Kia Nurse. She will get most of the attention because she is the most well - known for Canadians who tune into TSN, one of Canada’s biggest sports media outlets, where she does broadcasting work. She also receives attention for being Darnell Nurse’s youngest sister. Darnell Nurse is a hockey player for the Edmonton Oilers.
The Canadian team is also banking on Natalie Achonwa being healthy enough to play, as she has sat out for the Minnesota Lynx with a knee injury. If she cannot go, Team Canada does have alternates ready to play such as Sami Hill, Aislinn Konig, Jamie Scott and Merissah Russell.
This team will rely on three point shooting. Bridget Carleton, Kim Gaucher and Kia Nurse are the top options. Defense will also be a key for the Canadians. Miranda Ayim, Shaina Pellington and Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe are some of the best defenders on the team. Guard play will also be important because other countries will have excellent guards to make plays as well as their ability to play pick and roll.
Team Canada did bring some excellent players aboard the team for the Olympics and Canada should be in good shape to contend for a medal, but it won’t be an easy feat.
The Olympic women’s basketball tournament starts on Sunday with South Korea taking on Spain.