Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Canada's women's basketball team revives on the World Cup podium. CBC Sports

It didn’t take long for things to come together at the World Cup for Canada.

Grouped with second, third and fourth place finishers from the Olympics, and under the tutelage of a new head coach in Victor Lapena, the fourth-place Canadian women’s basketball team could have been forgiven for counting moral victories in the tournament. . Australia.

Instead, Canada won three straight to open the tournament, eventually finishing second in their group 4–1.

Now, the Canadians are not only in the knockout stage, but they are one win away from playing for their first medal in a major tournament since 1986.

Canada next take on 17th-ranked Puerto Rico in the quarterfinals at 12:30 p.m. ET on Thursday. A win will most likely take place in the semi-finals against Powerhouse US on Friday.

“They don’t give up. They don’t rest on the court. When they rest on the court, it’s because they don’t realize it. As a coach, what more can I ask of them?” Lapena said that Canada defeated Serbia in their first match.

“They’re working all the time and they trust in us, in my job” [coaching staff], When you play with your best, when you play with your maximum potential, good things happen. We are not perfect but we are learning the process.”

look | Canada beat Mali to complete group stage

Carleton fires Mali as Canada escapes US in FIBA ​​Women’s Basketball World Cup quarters

Bridget Carleton scored a game-high 27 points as Canada defeated Mali 88–65 to guarantee a top-two spot in Group B in the quarter-finals of the FIBA ​​Women’s Basketball World Cup in Sydney.

Lapena came in to preach an updated on-court philosophy that included free-flowing offense and offensive defense. But the flamboyant Spaniard cautioned that at least at first, increased turnovers and fouls could result in changes.

Hopes for the tournament, with star player Kia Nurse recovering from injury and minimal time with Lapena, were being kept in check.

As it turns out, Canada learned quickly. Its victory over Serbia was a measure of retaliation for the four-point loss to open the Olympics. It then beat Olympic silver medalist Japan and bronze medalist France as well as 37th-ranked Mali.

Canada’s only defeat was by three points against third-placed Australia.

Lapena’s system also seems to be working. Canada placed the middle of the pack in turnover, making the fourth-highest steal of any team. Meanwhile, only Puerto Rico and the US committed fewer fouls.

“I am very proud of my players as we are growing up as a team,” Lapena said after Japan’s win. “He has a lot of confidence in me and in the coaches and that means I can think about how we can win” [against] Japan is doing this, this and this, and they try to execute to the fullest.”

Alexander, Carlton Lead Way

Former WNBA center Kayla Alexander seems to be particularly rejuvenated in Lapena’s system as one of only two players to average more than 10 rebounds per game in the group stage.

Alexander said after Canada’s 14-point win against France, “I like his philosophy, especially on defence. I love that he challenges us. He has asked me to work on defence, which I do.” Don’t usually think I can.”

Bridget Carlton, who played alongside team captain Natalie Achonawa at the Minnesota Lynx, also continued her strong international run for the Olympics.

After struggling for 14 shooting games for one against France, the 25-year-old found his stroke and scored more than 50 percent of his field goals, including 12-for-19 points from deep, in the last three games.

“She’s always been explosive,” Achonawa said. “She’s always been a shooter and a scorer, but she’s really embraced this moment and needed us to fill that role. And I’m glad to see that the world gets to see, too, which I am.” I know Bridget Carlton. It’s been all this time.”

look | Carlton overtakes Canada over Japan

Carleton powers Canada into World Cup quarters

Bridget Carleton starred for Canada with 19 points a game in her team’s 70–56 victory over Japan to go undefeated at the FIBA ​​Women’s Basketball World Cup.

Nurse, playing her first competitive game since the 2021 WNBA playoffs on a ban of about 20 minutes per game, appears fearless and relatively explosive.

The Hamilton, Ont., native averaged nine points per game, while shooting upwards of 40 percent.

Puerto Rico ahead

The focus now turns to a powerful Puerto Rico team, which won 2-3, including a narrow three-point loss against fifth-ranked Belgium.

Puerto Rico knocked Canada out of the AmeriCup semi-finals last year, although the Canadian team was missing its WNBA players and included the now-retired Miranda Ayam and Nayo Rencock-Ekunwe.

A key for Canada would be limiting shooting guard Arela Guerentes, who tied American WNBA MVP A’ja Wilson as the leading scorer in the group stage on a per-game basis.

Still, Canada must be on the side.

“With all due respect, playing against Puerto Rico is very different than playing against the United States,” Lapena said. “USA is playing in a different tournament, on a different planet. They are playing Space Jam.”

After its strong group stage, Canada now has an opportunity to elevate itself into a new stratosphere.

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