SENIOR WOMEN ADVANCE TO GOLD MEDAL GAME AND QUALIFY FOR WORLDS

The Senior Women’s National Team (SWNT) has secured a berth to the 2014 FIBA World Championship in Turkey after a 73-48 victory over Puerto Rico in the semi-finals of the 2013 FIBA Americas Championship for Women. Undefeated with a record of 5-0, Team Canada will play for the gold medal in Saturday night’s tournament finale.

The Red and White began the match with the same tough defensive effort that they have displayed throughout the first four games of the competition. Canada opened up the contest with a late 12-0 run to lead 26-8 after the first 10 minutes of play. The Puerto Rican offence began to execute in the second period; the team outscored Canada 18-13 in the quarter to cut into the lead. The Canadians held a 39-26 advantage at halftime.

Energized by their improved play in the second, Team Puerto Rico continued to apply pressure to the Canadians in the third. The SWNT lead was trimmed to single digits on two occasions, but Team Canada maintained its composure and finished the frame with a 10-1 stretch to go ahead 58-40. The Canadian side closed-out the match by holding the opposition to eight points, while scoring 15.

The SWNT was led by veteran Kim Gaucher of Mission, B.C. who recorded a double-double of 14 points and a game-high 11 rebounds. Guelph, Ont. native Natalie Achonwa also recorded double-digits in both categories, collecting 11 points and 10 rebounds, including a game-best five on the offensive end. Brampton, Ont. product Tamara Tatham tallied 10 points and seven rebounds. Canada out-rebounded Puerto Rico 49-23, including a 19-3 margin in offensive rebounds. The Canadians again showcased their ability to move the ball, recording 21 assists on 23 made field goals. The game’s statistics can be found here.

Achonwa reflected with pride when asked about her summer season with the SWNT, but she knows there is still work to be done. "Playing for Canada means everything to me. It's a huge honour to be a part of the national team. Qualifying today is what we came to do and it will feel great playing tomorrow with the sole objective of capturing the gold." Gaucher echoed her teammate's sentiments, adding that, "This is very exciting, but we’re not finished yet. We're going into the final focused on getting the win – on getting that gold."

Team Canada has not reached the final of the FIBA Americas Championship for Women since hosting an Olympic-qualifying edition of the competition in Hamilton, Ont. in 1995. The Canadians went on to win gold in that tournament to earn a spot at the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia. Canada will face Cuba for the gold medal at 9:00 p.m. (ET) on Saturday evening in a rematch of the two teams’ final game of the preliminary round – a hard-fought 53-40 victory for the Red and White. The match will be broadcast live on Sportsnet 360.

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.