Image courtesy of FIBA Americas

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

Team Cuba began the game with energy and intensity to build an early lead. The Cuban side shot the ball 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. The SWNT 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, Ontario’s Tamara Tatham powered Canada’s offence with 17 points to go with nine rebounds. Kia Nurse of Hamilton, Ont. tallied 13 points, four rebounds and three assists. Canada finished with a distinct advantage in rebounds with Guelph, Ont. product Natalie Achonwa collecting eight and Mission, B.C. native Kim Gaucher corralling seven. The team out-rebounded the opposition 47-28. The SWNT continued to move the ball well, collecting 15 assists in the match. The game’s statistics are available here.

When reflecting on the team’s effort, head coach Lisa Thomaidis commented, “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.”

Tatham is glad for the result, but remains focused on the games ahead. “The team is feeling great. We have worked all summer for this and we want two more wins. This is where it counts and we’re not going to hold anything back.”

Following a day of practice and rest, Team Canada will face Puerto Rico in the semi-final round on Friday with tip-off scheduled for 6:45 p.m. (ET). Team 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.

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.