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Gameday: Canada vs Spain, July 31

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Canada faces a must-win game in only its third game together at the Olympics. If Canada is going to advance out of the group stages, it will need to beat Spain, the silver medalists in 2016. That would put all three of Canada, Spain, and Serbia at 2-1, and point differential would come into play. Because Canada beat Korea by such a wide margin, that would almost certainly favour Canada. So there’s plenty of hope that this talented Canadian team can medal, but they’ll have to unseat the (second) best to be the (second) best.

There are plenty of elements that will have to be better for Canada to beat Spain. They’ll certainly have to shoot better, particularly Kia Nurse, whose offense has abandoned her. She has remained a brilliant defender, so it’s not like she hasn’t been productive. But Spain is such a good team that Nurse has to be even better.

Canada will also have to rebound the ball like maniacs. Spain feasts on the offensive glass, with Astou Ndour one of the best rebounders on the women’s side. WNBA center Ji Su Park had 4 offensive rebounds against Canada for Korea, and Ndour can’t be allowed to wreak such havoc. She plays for the Chicago Sky, so it’s not like Canada’s bigs will be unfamiliar with her game. Natalie Achonwa will likely start on her, and because she so recently returned to playable health from a knee injury, Achonwa will need help down low.

It’ll be doable for Canada, but they’ll have to play much better than they yet have in Tokyo. If Canada shoots well, rebounds well, and controls the pace of the game, they should be fine. Even then, Spain will be tough to top. That’s life against one of the world’s best.

Game Info

Tip-Off: Saturday, July 31, 9 P.M. ET | TV: CBC

Canada’s Lineup

PG: Kia Nurse, Shaina Pellington

SG: Shay Colley, Kim Gaucher, Nirra Fields

SF: Bridget Carleton, Miranda Ayim, Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe

PF: Kayla Alexander, Aaliyah Edwards

C: Natalie Achonwa, Laeticia Amihere

Spain’s Lineup

PG: Cristina Ouvina

SG: Laia Palau, Silvia Dominguez, Leonor Rodriguez

SF: Alba Torrens, Queralt Casas, Maria Conde

PF: Laura Gil, Raquel Carrera, Tamara Abalde

C: Astou Ndour

The Line

Canada’s a slight underdog, at +2.5. Over/under is 139.5.

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