Canada basketball
Canada Basketball

Canada closes out Colombia to conclude FIBA Women's AmeriCup 2021 Group Phase 4-0

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (June 15, 2021) -- The Canadian Senior Women’s National Team remain undefeated at the FIBA Women’s AmeriCup 2021. With a 74-40 victory against Colombia on Tuesday, Canada will head into the quarter-finals as the top overall seed in Group A after group play. 

Canada was led by a 14-point, nine-rebound performance from Kayla Alexander, while Laeticia Amihere and Shaina Pellington added 10 points apiece in the victory. Yaneth Arias had nine points to lead Colombia.

This was the fourth win in as many days for Canada and again served as an opportunity to get reacclimated to playing together after a 16-month layoff amid new offence implementation.

“There’s so many things that we’re trying to address,” head coach Lisa Thomaidis said of her team’s focus for the tournament. “I thought tonight we probably had some of the best movement on offence that we had [against Colombia], getting a little bit deeper and sharing the ball. That was a real positive. I think our defence is still a work in progress that’s coming along. Our communication is getting there again. We’re still working to get back to our Canadian standard, but each game we’re growing a little bit and that’s nice to see.”

With Alexander and Amihere in double figures and Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe adding eight points, getting the ball inside paid off big for Canada in the win.

“It’s getting better,” Thomaidis said of the team’s offence getting the ball inside. “We definitely need to continue to go in that direction and involve them. They are a strength of our team for sure. It sometimes takes a little bit longer to include them in what we’re doing and for us to be able to recognize when and where we can get them some touches, it’s coming along for sure.”

Canada steadily built onto its lead against Colombia. Leading by eight after the opening quarter and then 16 at the half, the Canadians held a 20-point lead after three before opening the final quarter on a 10-0 run to go ahead 63-33, on a layup from Alexander. Canada outscored Colombia 21-7 in the final quarter, holding Colombia to its lowest scoring quarter of the game in the fourth.

All 12 players on Canada’s active roster logged time in the win, and all 12 were in the scoring column as well as the team finished the game shooting 43 percent from the floor, including 35 percent from three, making 6-of-17 three-point attempts. On the other end, Canada’s defence held Colombia to just 29 percent shooting, including 1-for-10 from beyond the arc.

After resting in Monday’s victory, Team Canada veteran Shay Colley returned to the floor for Tuesday’s victory. As the team continues to experiment with various lineup combinations during this tournament, Colley explained where the team’s focus is heading into the tournament quarterfinals.

“It's very good, just to get some competition against other teams instead of ourselves,” she said. “[We are] really working on what we need to do for more games to come in the next round and [we’re] trying to really focus on our style of play and jell together as a team.”

Shortly before play shut down worldwide due to the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020, Canada had an undefeated showing at the FIBA Women's Basketball Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Belgium. Thomaidis is glad her team is now getting to be back on the floor for live game action prior to this summer’s Olympic games in Tokyo. Through four games in the FIBA Women's AmeriCup 2021, Canada is first overall in shooting percentage (48.8 percent) and three-point percentage (41.3 percent).

“The last time we played at the Olympic qualifier we had some real positive results,” she said. “I thought we had a lot of great momentum that had been generated up until then. Now we’re just trying to get back into that groove. We were playing some real good basketball up until that time, team-first basketball. We have to hang our hat on that, how we share the ball and how we create great shots.”

Thursday will be a rest day for all teams in the tournament. Play resumes Friday with the quarterfinals where Canada will play the loser of the Venezuela/Dominican Republic game. Fans in Canada can catch all of the game action live on DAZN.