Canada’s women go in basketball semis undefeated

Xalapa, Mexico – The Senior Women’s National Team defeated Cuba, 53-40, to complete the preliminary round of the 2013 FIBA Americas Championship for Women with an untarnished 4-0 record. That gives the team first-place in Group A and a berth in the semi-final round. Cuba will also move on in the tournament with a mark of 3-1.

Hamilton’s Kia Nurse collected 13 points in Canada’s win over Cuba. (Photo: Samuel Vélez/FIBA Americas)

Team Cuba began Wednesday’s (Sept. 25) game with energy and intensity to build an early lead. The Cuban side shot well to go up 17-9 after the game’s opening period. The two teams played evenly through the first five minutes of the second with Cuba holding a 27-17 advantage, but Team Canada battled back to turn the tide. The Canadians mounted a comeback while locking-down their own end of the court. The Red and White ended the half with a 15-3 stretch to pull ahead 32-30.

Both sides shifted their focuses to their own ends in the third quarter. Offences were held in-check as the two teams exchanged defensive stops. Canada limited Cuba to two points while managing eight. Canada maintained its defensive mindset in the fourth frame to close-out the match and secure the victory. Cuba was held to 10 points in the second half and 26 per cent shooting in the contest.

Brampton’s Tamara Tatham powered Canada’s offence with 17 points to go with nine rebounds. Hamilton’s Kia Nurse tallied 13 points, four rebounds and three assists. Canada finished with a distinct advantage in rebounds with Guelph product Natalie Achonwa, who attended Hamilton’s St. Mary high school, collecting eight and Mission, B.C. native Kim Gaucher corralling seven.

The team out-rebounded the opposition, 47-28. Canada continued to move the ball well, collecting 15 assists in the match.

When reflecting on the team’s effort, head coach Lisa Thomaidis of Dundas said, “It was our toughness and our fitness that won us the game. We rebounded well tonight and we wore them down. Our defence was strong – when you hold a team to two points in a quarter and 10 in the half, it makes it easier to get the win.”

Team Canada will face Puerto Rico in the semi-final round on Friday. Puerto Rico advanced to the second stage with a 3-1 record. Brazil will face Cuba in the other semi-final match-up. Canada’s game will be broadcast live on NBA TV Canada.