Olympics dream at stake as Canadian women basketball team gets ready
for FIBA Americas Championship
The Canadian women’s basketball team has begun its march towards the FIBA Americas Championship which will start on 24th May 2011 at Mar del Plata, Argentina. On Monday Team Canada opened its camp at the University of
Fraser Valley, as the first part of a long summer that will also include the exhibition game series in Europe. This years’ championship is all the more important because its winner will get a direct entry to the 2012 London Olympics.
Even if the Canadian women’s team fails to win the tournament but manages to finish between second and fourth, the team will still have a chance to qualify for London in the FIBA World Olympic Qualifier Championship.
Last time, the Canadian team made an Olympic appearance was back in 2000. The 31-year-old Teresa Gabriele is the only current player who was on the roster when Team Canada qualified for the big event more than a decade before.
Teresa, one of the most senior players and captain in the team now, has been the motivator in chief in the Canadian camp and is rearing to have another shot at the Olympics glory.
"I was 20 when that happened, and I was so young. It's just a whirlwind when you're there. You don't really know until a little bit later how much that means. To go again and experience another one, it would be just amazing." Gabriele
Presently, nine women are the part of the roster that starred in the last year’s world championship. These include the captain Teresa veterans Ottawa's Courtnay Pilypaitis, Chelsea Aubry of Kitchener and Kim Smith.
Three players from the last year team won’t be seen at the camp. Jordan Adams and Kaela Chapdelaine have both retired, while Natalie Achonwa will be taking summer courses and training at Notre Dame University.
Canadian head coach Allison McNeill, rued the absence of a strong domestic basketball structure in his country. However she rated his teams’ chances highly and is determined to transform his team into a competitive unit.
"We were the only team of the 16 at the World Championships last year that does not have a domestic league for women. Our players are all over the world, playing different styles. So we try to get right into team play. There's
not a lot of individual skill work, because we've got to get them playing together."