Photo Courtesy: Canada Basketball

 

The Canadian Women’s National Team are continental Champions once again!

Canada fought hard to beat a resilient Argentina team 67-65 in the Final of the FIBA Women’s AmeriCup and defend their 2015 title.

The women were rarely tested throughout the tournament but they showed incredible character in this game. With their backs against the wall when they were stuck seven at the half, Canada showed their toughness to swing the momentum.

A back-and-forth battle from start to finish made for a perfect Championship game.

UConn guard Kia Nurse led Canada with 12 points and three assists, scoring from all over the court. Miranda Ayim and Miah-Marie Langlois both scored ten points. Canada’s depth allowed them to get good offence from players including Ruth Hamblin, Nirra Fields and Katherine Plouffe.

MVP Nirra Fields. Photo Courtesy: FIBA

Fields go into foul trouble early which affected her rhythm in this game but she was awarded with FIBA Women’s AmeriCup 2017 Most Valuable Player for her dominate play during the tournament.

Field was also selected to the All-Star Five along with captain Miranda Ayim.  Fields averaged 14.5 points, 5.3 rebounds and two assists, while Ayim averaged 8.2 points and 6.3 rebounds.

Argentina’s Melisa Gretter heated up quick and Canada didn’t have an answer on how to contain her. She scored 12 of Argentina’s 18 points in the first quarter.

Langlois led Canada in the first with two short jumpers but the women trailed 18-14.

Nirra Fields. Photo Courtesy: FIBA

The second quarter saw Canada start closing out faster and forcing Argentina off the three point line but a poor finish to the half saw them being 34-27 at the half.

Fields had a strong quarter, bringing her energy and attacking the basket well to keep the score close going into the second half.

Team Canada became a new team in the third quarter and took the game to Argentina. Plouffe and Shay Colley were attacking the basket hard earning trips to the free throw line. On the other end, Canada pressured Gretter in the backcourt and get the ball out of her hands.

Miranda Ayim. Photo Courtesy: FIBA

The new game plan worked beautifully which led to a 13-2 Canada run in a complete shift in momentum. Hamblin and Ayim were huge forces, combining for eleven points during that stretch. They used their size and physicality and also got Argentina’s centre in foul trouble.

Canada was doing what made them successful all tournament, which is play inside-out. They only took two three-pointers in the third while scoring 12 points in the restricted area. The women also got to the charity stripe 14 times in the quarter compared to only three times in the first half.

Canada took control and went up 56-47 heading into the fourth quarter.

The final frame would see Argentina hit back and eventually take the lead back but the two strong teams would battle back-and-forth.

A truly horrendous looking knee injury to an Argentina player brought most of the team to tears but they used it for motivation and continued to fight.

Nurse made a huge jumper with 1:27 left to play to put Canada up by one point. On the next defensive possession, it was Plouffe defending against Gretter and the forward shut down the quick guard forcing her into two bad shots.

On offence, Fields was fouled but could only make one at the line which left the window open for a hail mary basket but Gretter’s running three hit the rim. Game over, Canada are back to back champions!

And the celebrations began.

MVP Fields had this to say after the game, “It feels amazing. It’s the second title in a row and we are writing history. The team is feeling great and we are all celebrating. We are happy that we put in a team effort today and got the win.”

Photo Courtesy: FIBA

Top Performers

Kia Nurse: 12 points | 3 assists | 1 rebound | 1 steal

Miranda Ayim: 10 points | 6 rebounds | 2 assists | 2 blocks | 1 steal

Miah-Marie Langlois: 10 points | 4 assists | 3 rebounds | 1 steal

Ruth Hamblin: 9 points | 7 rebounds | 1 assist | 1 block

Nirra Fields: 7 points | 6 rebounds | 2 assists | 1 steal

Katherine Plouffe: 11 rebounds | 7 points | 1 assist | 1 block

Click here for full box score.


Canada becomes just the second country to repeat as FIBA Women’s AmeriCup champions, joining Brazil who accomplished the feat twice (2001-2003, 2009-2011).  Canada has now found the podium in each of the last five FIBA Americas competitions dating back to the 2009 FIBA Americas Championship for Women.

This gold medal is just further proof that Canada Basketball has arrived and is here to stay. Canada has medalled at all FIBA/FIBA Americas events this summer.

Devon Imrie

Written by Devon Imrie

Devon Imrie is a 23-year-old journalist from Mississauga, Ontario. Contributor for North Pole Hoops. As a fourth year journalism student at Humber College he has taken in basketball at various levels providing National team coverage, high school and NPH Exposure Camps.

Website: https://twitter.com/devonimrie10

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