Canada’s Women Basketball Team has secured a spot in the 2020 Olympic Games with their dominant 80-50 win over Sweden on Saturday.
This is the seventh time that the Canadian Women’s National Team, currently 4th in the FIBA World Rankings, has qualified for the Olympics.
The Canadian squad got off to a slow start in the first quarter. With 11 turnovers in the first half, Canada allowed Sweden to keep the game close, only holding a three-point lead at half time.
But the Canadians charged to start the second half, starting with an Achonwa mid-range jump shot (08:16), followed by a Bridget Carlton three-pointer. Kia Nurse converted her second three-pointer in five attempts at 05:09 in the third quarter, giving Canada a double-digit lead that they would not surrender.
Nurse tallied 10 points and three rebounds on Saturday. The New York Liberty All-Star continues a stellar international career, which now includes two Olympic Games appearances, two golds at the FIBA AmeriCup in 2015 and 2017 and gold at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto.
Natalie Achonwa supplied the early scoring for Canada, converting eight points on her first four shooting attempts. The Indiana Fever star led Canada in scoring on Saturday with 16 points on 8-of-9 (88.89 percent) shooting.
Shaina Pellington and Miranda Ayim, who was a member of Canada’s 2016 Olympic Team, also secured double-digit points, putting up 11 and 10 points respectively.
Frida Eldebrink responded for Sweden, leading the team in scoring with 14 points. Swedish Kalis Loyd also provided the offense for her team, with 12 points.
Loyd propelled the Swedish offense on their 8-0 run to start the second quarter, converting a wide-open three (08:13) and driving to the basket for a layup (07:28).
Pellington lifted Canada out of their scoring slump in the second quarter, shooting an outside three on the assist from Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe at 6:08. At 4:19 in the second quarter, she displayed her ability to penetrate the Swedish defense to record a layup.
Kayla Alexander, playing in her second game from a knee injury, got a putback bucket off of an offensive rebound at the first-half buzzer, giving Team Canada a seven-point lead.
Alexander’s qualification into the Olympics is the continuation of success, stemming from the 2019 FIBA Americup where she put up a tournament-high 10.2 rebounds per game.
Canada possessed an advantage over Sweden in several categories, including field goal percentage (50 percent), rebounds (45) and assists (17). The Canadian bench showcased their offensive abilities, outscoring the Swedish bench players 43 to 9. Canada’s defense stepped up in the second half, employing a tight 3-2 zone that held Sweden to 19 in the last two quarters.
This is the second Olympics for Lisa Thomaidis, the Canadian Women’s head coach. While leading Canada’s national women’s team, Thomaidis won gold at the 2015 Pan Am Games and the 2017 FIBA Women’s AmeriCup.
Canada wraps up the FIBA Olympic Qualifying event on Sunday against Japan at 12 pm EST.