Image courtesy of FIBA Americas

The Senior Women’s National Team (SWNT) has captured the silver medal at the 2013 FIBA Americas Championship for Women following a hard-fought 79-71 loss to Cuba in the gold medal game. The result is Canada’s highest at the competition since capturing the gold in 1995 in Hamilton, Ont. By reaching the finale, Team Canada had already secured a berth to the 2014 FIBA World Championship for Women – the team’s third straight qualification to the tournament.

The two sides played a very tight opening quarter, exchanging defensive stops and offensive chances at both ends of the court. The first 10 minutes of the game saw six lead-changes and two ties. A late 9-2 run by Cuba helped them build a 20-15 lead after the first. The back-and-forth play continued through the beginning of the second. With Canada behind by four points at 28-24, Cuba put together another solid stretch to enter halftime with a 45-30 advantage.

Team Canada emerged in the second half with a more concerted effort to trim the deficit. Timely scoring and strong defence limited the Cuban attack during a 13-4 run midway through the period, but Cuba maintained an 11 point lead after 30 minutes of play. The fourth frame opened with even play on both ends as the Canadian side continued to press. Canada cut the lead to four points with three minutes remaining, but accurate shooting at the free-throw line secured the victory for Cuba.

Brampton, Ont. native Tamara Tatham led the SWNT with a game-high 25 points, shooting an impressive 77 per cent to accompany a team-high nine rebounds. London, Ont. native Miranda Ayim registered 13 points to go with six rebounds. Kim Gaucher of Mission, B.C. and Kia Nurse of Hamilton, Ont. each added nine points on the evening. The game’s statistics are available here.

Head coach Lisa Thomaidis spoke to the development of her team and the play of their opponent when asked about the match. “I’m so proud of this group and the progress that these players have made over the summer to reach the FIBA Americas gold medal game. I’m proud of how hard they competed tonight – right down to the final minutes, we were in a position to win, but Cuba deserves full credit for a tremendous game.”

In looking ahead, she added that, “we’re going to draw from this experience and grow from it. The lessons we have learned here will be invaluable as we set our sights on next year’s world championship.” The cities of Ankara and Istanbul will stage the 2014 FIBA World Championship for Women in Turkey. The seventeenth edition of the event will be held from September 27 to October 5, 2014. By capturing the bronze medal, Brazil will join Canada and Cuba as qualifiers from the FIBA Americas zone.

Images from the 2013 FIBA Americas Championship for Women are available via the FIBA Americas Photo Gallery. Please note that all photos must be credited to FIBA Americas.