Tuesday, September 20, 2022

The Canadian women's basketball team in a new look is eyeing the World Cup in progress. CBC Sports

Ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, former Canada head coach Lisa Thomadis spoke on the depths of international women’s basketball, saying that 10 teams were legitimate podium contenders.

The analysis turned out to be scientific. Fourth-placed Canada could not even progress beyond the group stage. And while the top-ranked Americans won the gold, it was No. 8 Japan that surprisingly took the silver and No. 6 France the bronze.

Now, the world’s top women’s basketball players are set to rejoin Australia for the FIBA ​​World Cup, which is held every four years and is widely considered the biggest non-Olympic tournament in the sport. Is.

Although the format is slightly different, the challenge is the same: Canada will have to win as many games against top-tier opponents.

And one thing Tokyo has in common – Canada’s opening competition is against Serbia. In Japan, a hard shooting night fell to the Canadians. They will try to turn the tables down on Wednesday.

free flowing style

Victor Lapena, who replaced Thomadis as head coach in January, said he was beginning to feel the pain of his predecessor.

“You don’t have time to build a team,” Lapena said. “So you have to play this and this and this. And we’ll try to mix. Now, I’m changing some ideas to try to mix more mechanics with freedom.”

Lapena has only led Canada for two official games, both of which took place in Japan in February, when Canada lost to the hosts in overtime before beating Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“The team that played in Japan competed very well. But we played without [Phoenix Mercury guard] kias [Nurse]we play without [University of Arizona point guard] Shayna [Pellington]That’s why it’s the hardest for me,” Lapena said.

“With Kia on the court, what kind of style are we going to have with Shaina? What kind of basketball are we going to play if Shay Koley is out and I have to use stark Fields, for example, as a point guard? “

The longest time for Lapena to establish his system, which he says emphasizes ball possession and movement and gives players more freedom than before, has been in the lead-up to the World Cup. The team spent time at their training center in Edmonton before relocating to Australia for exhibition games prior to the tournament.

It wouldn’t be surprising to see Canada win silver or lose all five of their group-stage matches.

Lapena’s free-flowing style – borrowed from famed Spanish football coach Pep Guardiola – can vary high. If it works out, Canada will look like it’s played together for years. If it doesn’t, it will look like a mess full of turnover.

“Target is not [play] Defense. No, our aim is to get the ball to attack. You know Pep Guardiola? They are passing the ball all the time. Because they want the ball to tire their opponent. That’s what I want to do,” Lapena said.

Lead assistant Noel Quinn, who doubles as head coach of the Seattle Storm and joined Team Canada with Lapena, should offer a fresh perspective as a former player on the bench.

“I had a funny conversation with [veteran Natalie] Achonawa shortly after the qualifiers in Tokyo in February,” recalled Canada Basketball CEO Michael Bartlett. “I asked Nat, ‘How was Victor?’ He gave me some great feedback. I was like, ‘How was Noel?’ And Nat was like, ‘Oh my god, I forgot she was new. She felt as if she had been a part of our show for a long time.

‘Tough Group’

For a variety of reasons, Canadian teams also typically spend less time together throughout the year than other national federations.

On the bright side, the more forgiving World Cup format should land Canada more time in prison.

At the Olympics, there were only three group-stage games, and the opener against Serbia proved to be Canada’s downfall. The group stage of the World Cup consists of five competitions per team.

Canada also plays France, Japan, Mali and No. 3 Australia. The top four teams in each of the two groups advance to the quarter-finals.

“Tough tournament because we’re in a tough group. But hey, you’re in the World Cup with the best rosters in the world. So it’s a pleasure and we start this process looking to the future,” Lapena said.

Unlike international football, where the World Cup is the final trophy, the Olympics are seen as the main prize in basketball.

Bartlett said, ‘The World Cup is a milestone for us. “But ultimately winning at the Olympics is a sign of success for basketball on an international level.”

Americans may be more vulnerable than usual

For non-US countries the victory is essentially the equivalent of silver or bronze. The US has won five of the last six World Cups and a gold medal in each of the last eight Olympics.

However, it could be vulnerable in Australia with the absence of legends Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi and Brittany Griner in addition to a new head coach in Minnesota Lynx bench boss Cheryl Reeve.

Still, Americans will be stocked with WNBA talent.

Canada, meanwhile, is taking on only two players who have graced the court this WNBA season: Bridget Carlton, arguably the team’s top player in Tokyo, and newly appointed captain Natalie Achonawa.

Kia Nurse, who did not play the entire season due to a knee injury, is set to return to the court on a one-minute ban.

Along with college player Leticia Amihere and newcomer Filipina Kei, the rest of the roster has youthful leanings.

Ultimately, progress in Australia counts as success for Canada.

Bartlett said, “Not to say that we are giving ourselves a pass in the World Cup,” but all these things that [Lapeña’s] Leading into the World Cup and through the World Cup is actually pointing to being ready to win [at the Paris 2024 Olympics],

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