The Senior Women’s National Team (SWNT) has opened the Belgrade Trophy Tournament with a last-minute 59-57 victory. The hard-fought decision comes on the heels of two wins against the Czech Republic national team on their home-court of Prague.
The teams opened the game fairly evenly with Serbia holding a two-point advantage after the first quarter as both sides pressed their opponents, looking to gain the upper-hand. The second frame saw the teams switch to a more defensive role to prevent the other side from establishing a rhythm. The Serbians came out on-top however, outscoring Team Canada 14-9 in the frame to take a 34-27 lead into halftime.
The strong defensive intensity carried into the third quarter as both sides continue to struggle to mount an offensive game. The Serbian squad pushed their advantage to 48-40, but Canada would turn things around in the last quarter. The Red and White seemed to find their legs and veteran Kim Smith sparked her side with energy and some timely offence.
With just a few minutes remaining in the game, the tide quickly turned. Two made free throws and a quick basket had the Canadians within reach of yet another comeback; and then, it came together. Sarnia, Ontario’s Kendel Ross notched her fourth assist of the day with a pass to Smith who then potted a three-pointer to send Canada to its third win in as many games.
Smith, who registered 18 points and nine rebounds in the contest, saw the game as “another good learning experience for our team. And, it's always good to get a win. After struggling through the first half we did what we had to do -- we made shots, got stops and offensive rebounds. We are looking forward to looking at the game film and seeing how to get better from this experience.”
Head coach Lisa Thomaidis is glad for the win, but also sees room for improvement. “We struggled on the court today and our weaknesses on defense were exposed. However, we had a strong final five minutes and people stepped up to get the job done. Kim Smith hit some big shots and we were able to win the game.”
The Belgrade Trophy tournament continues tomorrow as the SWNT looks to carry its momentum into a tilt with the national team of Montenegro, who lost its tournament opener to Team Italy by a 63-48 margin. The four-team competition will wrap-up on Sunday with Team Canada facing the Italian side.
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