AYIM, CANADA MOVING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION
Article on FIBA.com
Anyone could have made the case after the FIBA World Championship for Women in Turkey that, pound for pound, inch for inch, Miranda Ayim of Canada was one of the top players in the tournament.
The slender, 1.88m power forward had to mix it up inside with much taller players on a daily basis but often had the upper hand.
She was very good, especially on the last three days of the competition in Istanbul when averaging 12.7 points, 7 rebounds, 1.3 steals and one block per game.
Ayim was smart, crafty, opportunistic and tenacious as the Canadians finished fifth at the event.
She has carried that form into the French league season with Toulouse, averaging 15 points over the first three games.
So often teams that come up short of the podium at a World Championship do not receive the plaudits they should.
Canada, led by coach Lisa Thomaidis, certainly deserved theirs, especially after bouncing back from a Quarter-Final defeat to Australia and beating both France and the Chinese to ensure they left the tournament on a high.
"After our loss to Australia dropped us into the five to eight bracket, we weren't just going to play out the rest of our games," Ayim said to FIBA.com.
"We wanted to win the rest of our games, do the best that we could." "We're really happy with the progress that we made and continue to build."
The Canadians proved something at the World Championship.
A team that is hungry and focused, a side that plays smart and digs in on defense for 40 minutes, is going to win basketball games.
The concentration and the defensive effort made the difference in their last two wins.
In their 61-53 triumph over an improving China team, Canada harassed the Asian giants from start to finish.
Ayim, a member of Canada's Olympic team in 2012, had three of her team's 14 steals.
"Canada has always prided itself on defense, as well as the passion that we bring to the game," she explained. "I think you can see it, so, those steals are just a result of the athleticism that we’re bringing to the program and that passion and defensive intensity."
Canada were at a disadvantage in terms of size against some opponents but they turned it into an advantage for themselves.
"We have some big players but I think our quickness is to our advantage," Ayim pointed out.
"If some team is bigger than us, we still have the advantage of being quicker so I don’t really see that as being a disadvantage at all."
Canada also had a lot of movement on offense.
"We have high levels of cardio, really working hard in the off-season, so making opponents play longer on defense is one of our aims," the 28-year-old explained.
Ayim and her Canada teammates are now battling with their clubs and will have to wait a while before putting on the jersey of the national side again.
The national team is going to be at the front of their thoughts, however.
Next summer is going to be hugely important for Canada women's basketball.
"We're feeling great with the fifth-place finish at the Worlds and next year, so we're really excited about the way the program is going."