ANKARA, TURKEY – With everything on the line and a win separating both teams from earning a berth into the 2012 London Olympics, Canada got off to a fast start and was able to hold on for the 71-63 win, over Japan. This marks the first berth into the Olympics since both senior men`s and women`s teams did so in the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.
“I’d say this is the ultimate Canada Day! To come back after Friday’s loss is nothing less than spectacular. Their resilience has been remarkable. It was inspiring to see the way Courtnay developed this past week, and to see Teresa succeed in her quest to get back to the Olympic Games after 12 long years of incredible dedication.” declared Canada Basketball President, Wayne Parrish.
He continued “They say it takes 10,000 hours to make an Olympic champion. I suspect head coach Allison McNeill, together with Mike (McNeill) and Lisa (Thomaidis), have put in a lot more than that since 2002.”
Canada has qualified for the 2012 London Olympics | Courtesy: Canada Basketball
“I’d like to acknowledge a huge debt of gratitude to Denise Dignard, our Director of the Women’s Elite Program” he added, “for her dedication and commitment to building the Canadian development system is a big part of what lies behind this success. We’ve also had incredible support from Sport Canada and, over the past two years, from Own The Podium – we value both the financial support but also the guidance provided.”
“The team’s victory today is a result of years of dedication and sacrifice by the players, the coaches and the behind-the-scenes staff, as well as support of our many partners across the country who help ensure that the team trains in optimal conditions,” said Canada Basketball Executive Director, Michele O’Keefe.” We can collectively be proud of this Olympic qualification.”
In the opening quarter, Canada came out hard and when Krista Phillips (Saskatoon, SK) was able to hit an in close shot with 6:28 to play in the quarter, that gave Canada a 11-0 lead to begin the game. Canada was able to continue to shoot the ball well over the rest of the quarter as they owned the 21-11 advantage.
To begin the second quarter, Coutnay Pilypaitis (Orleans, ON) hit back-to-back 3-pointers to give Canada their largest lead in the half, 27-15. Japan was able to cut into the deficit and Canada closed the frame with a 37-31 lead.
During the third quarter, Canada built their advantage up to 15 points, but then Japan finished the quarter on an 8-0 run to keep the game within reach. Canada entered the fourth with a 52-45 lead.
Into the final quarter, Japan gave it everything they had left to make a serious run at the lead. Japan got within three points of the lead and had Canada on their heels. Canada was able to keep the advantage and make key free-throws down the stretch to preserve the win and take the final berth into the 2012 London Olympic Games, 71-63.
Canada was led by Courtnay Pilypaitis who scored a game-high 21 points and six assists in the game. Teresa Gabriele (Mission, BC) filled out the stat line by scoring eleven points, seven rebounds and five assists in the game.
Canada has been placed in Group B in the London Olympics, with; Australia, Brazil, Great Britain, France and Russia. The 2012 London Olympics, women`s basketball event will take place from July 28 – August 11.
To learn more about the 2012 London Olympics women`s basketball event, click here.