Photo: FIBA
Photo: FIBA

Canada to play France in Olympic women’s basketball quarterfinals

Canada will face France in the quarterfinals of the Rio 2016 Olympic women’s basketball tournament on Tuesday.

With a 73-60 loss to Spain on Sunday, Canada finishes the preliminary round with a 3-2 record, which is good for third in Group B. They’ll take on a French team that is also 3-2 in Rio (second in Group A) and ranked fourth in the world.

« Hopefully we come out swinging from the beginning, » said Canada’s Tamara Tatham about Tuesday’s must-win contest.

« We have got to commit to make shots and also just the easy baskets and buckets. »

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Rio 2016: Kia Nurse, women's basketball

Kia Nurse tries to break through Spain’s defence at Rio 2016 on August 14, 2016. (Photo: FIBA)

After a 3-0 start to the tournament – defeating China, Serbia and Senegal – Canada, ranked ninth, dropped it’s final two games, falling to the top ranked United States and third ranked Spain. The Canadians were the only team to keep the powerhouse Americans under 100 points.

« We just had an off day, it happens in basketball, » said Tatham following Sunday’s loss. « Sometimes you hit shots, sometimes you don’t.

« We have got to regroup, come back and come into the next game because it’s a must-win. »

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Rio 2016: Shona Thorburn, women's basketball

Canada’s Shona Thorburn moves the ball up court against Spain at Rio 2016 on August 14, 2016 (Photo: FIBA)

Despite missing a few open shots and layups, Canada only trailed by one, 17-16, after the first quarter on Sunday. Spain led by a few for much of the second quarter, but a Miah-Marie Langlois jump shot got Canada within one, 30-29, with 17 seconds left. The Spaniards would enter halftime with a four-point advantage after Marta Xargay hit a three-pointer at the buzzer.

While Canada’s defence seemingly frustrated the Spaniards in the opening half, Canada only shot 37% from the field. Langlois and Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe each had seven points.

Spain went on a 6-0 run early in the third to take a 41-33 lead. A jumper from Laura Nicholls with 4:04 left gave the Spaniards a 12-point lead – but it would Canada carrying the momentum into the fourth. A jump shot from Kim Gaucher capped off a 6-0 run, making it a two-point centest, 49-47, after three.

Rio 2016: Kia Nurse, women's basketball

Kia Nurse tries to break through Spain’s defence at Rio 2016 on August 14, 2016. (Photo: FIBA)

Canada’s offence struggled in the fourth, allowing Spain to go on an 11-0 run and take a 60-47 advantage.

« We were well-prepared, we knew what to expect against them and so I’m sure they’re (Canada’s players) very frustrated, » said Canadian head coach Lisa Thomaidis. « But the good thing being that we’re still moving on to the quarters and it’s our chance to do some pretty special things here.

« It’s going to be important to leave this one behind, and learn and get ready for France. »

This will mark the second straight Olympic Games that Canada’s women’s basketball team has reached the quarterfinals after falling to the United States at London 2012. The team’s best ever finish at an Olympics was fourth at Los Angeles 1984.