SYDNEY, Australia (Sept. 23, 2022) - Canada takes on France in their second game at the FIBA Women's World Cup.
Canada (1-0) vs. France (1-0)
When: Friday, Sept. 23, 4:00 a.m. ET
Where: Sydney Superdome
Things to know heading into Friday’s game against France:
One down: The Canadian Senior Women’s National Team kicked off the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup 2022 campaign with a 67-60 victory over Serbia early Thursday morning. Canada was led by a 13-point, seven-rebound performance from Kayla Alexander, 12 points from Nirra Fields, and 10 points and eight rebounds from Natalie Achonwa. After holding a training camp in Edmonton to get familiar with new teammates, as well as head coach Víctor LaPeña’s offensive and defensive schemes before then heading to Australia for more practice, the team was just happy to get to measure their progress against an actual opponent. “We realized some things [against Serbia], but especially, the team’s belief in themselves,” LaPeña said. “And this is the most important for me, during many minutes today when Serbia pressed, when Serbia did a good job to come back to the game, the team was ready to make good decisions in that moment. I think if we played two or three more games, maybe even the team will be better [than] right now. But it's like we are in the pre-season. And after Serbia, [Friday] it's France. This is the most important.”
France downs Australia: France was also triumphant in its first game in the tournament, taking down host-team Australia 70-57 behind 23 points from Gabby Williams and 10 points and six assists from Marine Fauthoux. Williams, who is fresh off being named the Final Four MVP after winning the 2021-22 EuroLeague Women’s Championship with Sopron Basket, played college basketball at the University of Connecticut with Kia Nurse who made her return to the court on Thursday. France's victory spoiled the return of Australian basketball legend Lauren Jackson who played 11 minutes in the loss.
A welcomed return: Team Canada veteran Kia Nurse made her return to the court against Serbia after missing the last 11 months following an ACL injury. The past year has been spent completing difficult and diligent rehabilitation on her right knee and Nurse wasted no time getting to the basket in her first game back. She scored Canada’s first three points in the game and finished with nine points and three assists in 19 minutes of action. After getting her own offensive rebound and completing the putback basket in the second quarter, Nurse’s emphatic reaction as well as the emotion on her face showed just how happy she was to be back on the floor doing what she does best.
Next-play mentality: Team Canada guard Shay Colley was asked about the benefits of going up against Canada’s length in practice. She said it helps in preparation for games where you’ll inevitably be going up against taller players inside when attacking the rim. She also shared that Coach LaPeńa had recently shared an article with the team about always focusing on the next play. “You get blocked, you can’t worry about it,” Colley said. That next-play mentality helps when Canada is pressuring opponents and trying to push the ball and force turnovers. In their victory against Serbia, Canada helped force Serbia into 19 turnovers, while scoring 20 points off of those turnovers in comparison to Serbia scoring just eight points off of Canada’s miscues. Canada also held an 18-8 edge in fast break points and an 11-0 advantage in second chance points.
Alexander earns high praise after Serbia victory: As mentioned, Kayla Alexander led Canada with 13 points, eight rebounds and two blocked shots in Canada’s 67-60 win against Serbia on Thursday. While LaPeña was thrilled with her statistical performance, he shared how much the team values Alexander’s voice in the locker room. "Kayla Alexander, Euroleague level, many years played in Canada, 32 years old, one of the most important Canadian players in our history,” LaPeña said. “I’m super happy because she’s one of our leaders. Maybe she doesn’t talk too much, [on court], [but] she speaks with her teammates, and everybody is, ‘Kayla talked about it, let’s do it.’”
Where to watch: Fans in Canada can catch all of the Women's Basketball World Cup 2022 action live from Australia on Sportsnet.