Kayla Alexander scored 13 factors and hauled down seven rebounds to steer Canada previous Serbia 67-60 in its opener on the 2022 FIBA girls’s Basketball World Cup.
Nirra Fields, a guard from Montreal, scored 12 for Canada and Guelph, Ont., ahead Natalie Achonwa added 10.
On the Serbian facet, veteran guard Yvonne Anderson led all scorers with 18 factors whereas centre Tina Krajisnik completed with 17 factors and eight rebounds.
The victory was an necessary confidence-booster for a Canadian crew taking its first steps in a significant worldwide competitors beneath the watch of recent head coach Victor Lapena, a longtime coach with Spain’s nationwide girls’s program.
“Congratulations to my gamers and [I’m happy] within the belief they put in me in some essential particulars towards Serbia,” Lapena instructed reporters after the sport.
“Now we simply must relaxation and to start out enthusiastic about the following recreation as a result of, sure we began the match 1-0 and are very glad, however the subsequent one is an important.”
Canada entered the World Cup because the fourth-ranked crew on the earth. Serbia was ranked No. 10. The powerful exams will proceed for Canada in group play because it’ll see No. 6 ranked France subsequent Friday at 4:00 a.m. ET.
Each win issues for Canada throughout this group part. Of the six groups in it, solely 4 will advance by means of to the quarterfinals, and the higher you carry out throughout this preliminary spherical the higher seeding you’ll get.
Right here’s just a few takeaways from an enormous tournament-opening victory from Canada’s girls in Sydney.
Alexander appears to be like to be again
Whereas the lead-up of the sport was primarily centered on the return of one other participant (we’ll get to her down under), it was one other return of kinds that proved to be the most important difference-maker for Canada.
Ahead Kayla Alexander has been a fixture on the nationwide crew for about 4 years now however, sadly, these years have been suffering from premature accidents which have each restricted her effectiveness when she’s been capable of go well with up for Canada or saved her off the courtroom totally.
Towards Serbia, nonetheless, the 31-year-old appeared to be again to her outdated self as she and fellow beginning frontcourt-mate Achonwa created a formidable duo beneath the basket for Canada.
“I’m tremendous glad as a result of she’s considered one of our leaders,” Lapena mentioned of Alexander’s efficiency. “Possibly she doesn’t discuss an excessive amount of, her voice, [but] she speaks together with her teammates. Everyone is, ‘Kayla talked about it, let’s do it.’”
[brightcove videoID=6312679738112 playerID=JCdte3tMv height=360 width=640]
Nurse makes quick affect in return
The most important Canadian storyline heading into the sport was the return of Kia Nurse after she had been sidelined from basketball for 11 months with an ACL harm.
All she did upon her return was rating 9 factors, scoring Canada’s first three factors of the match by changing on a reducing layup after absorbing contact. She then completed off the three-point play on the free-throw line.
Nurse was restricted to simply beneath 19 minutes of motion, however she appeared to indicate no unwell results from her lengthy restoration from harm as she appeared to nonetheless have plenty of burst each with and with out the ball.
New coach, similar Canadian defence
One of many colleges of thought when it got here to bringing in Lapena was so as to add a head coach with not solely plenty of worldwide expertise however one with slightly extra creativeness offensively.
Seeing how, precisely, Lapena and his teaching employees would possibly affect Canada’s offence in comparison with years previous might take slightly longer, although, as a result of Canada beat Serbia with its outdated, basic model of getting it performed on the defensive finish.
Canada managed to carry Serbia to simply 38 per cent capturing from the sphere and 3-for-17 from three-point vary. Moreover, and extra importantly, the Canadians turned Serbia over 19 instances, main to twenty factors from these takeaways created.
Although a brand new coach is helming the ship, Canada’s id nonetheless revolves largely round its athleticism, that means anytime the crew can get out and run it ought to have a bonus. There’s no higher strategy to get out on the break than to create turnovers, and given the way in which Canada smothered Serbia, it’s an encouraging signal of issues to come back for the remainder of the match.
If Canada can proceed to place the clamps on opponents the way in which it did to Serbia, then it ought to nonetheless have the ability to create turnovers and get simple buckets. A successful recipe.