Team Canada




    Canada’s senior women’s basketball team begins its journey toward world championships

    By: Doug Smith
    February 6, 2018
    The Toronto Star

    Eight members of the senior team player pool were in Toronto for a few days taking part in a mini-camp with teammates, coaches and Canada Basketball support staff.

    The women who have played for Canada’s senior basketball team over the years have always been vocal about their love of the program, their desire to represent the country at the highest level and to serve as role models for young athletes.

    When Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe got around to determining her summer basketball plans, Canada won out because the 26-year-old Toronto-born forward knows what a special feeling representing the country — and winning — can be.

    The six-foot-two forward, who had an excellent rookie season with the New York Liberty last summer, has decided to take a year off from the WNBA to prepare to help Canada make a medal run at this summer’s world basketball championships.

    “It was definitely a difficult decision, one of the more difficult in my athletic career,” Raincock-Ekunwe said Tuesday morning.

    “It was toss-up, but in the end I decided to commit to the national team help prepare for the worlds because I think we can really do something in September.”

    Raincock-Ekunwe and seven other members of the senior team player pool were in Toronto for a few days taking part in a mini-camp at Ryerson’s Kerr Hall Gymnasium to touch base with teammates, coaches and Canada Basketball support staff.

    They flew back home from various European homes — it’s a scheduled break for many of the top overseas leagues — for a whirlwind camp just to reaffirm what’s on the horizon in a bold team-building exercise put together by Canada Basketball.

    “Sometimes you get in the grind but you come here and you get refreshed of the bigger picture and kind of why you’re overseas, why you’re investing that time in a season,” Ruth Hamblin said. “That’s kind of cool — to realize this is what we’re working towards here.”

    Hamblin, like Raincock-Ekunwe, put career aspirations on hold because of the allure of representing her country. She took the 2017 WNBA season off to train full-time with the national team, was a stalwart on the group that easily qualified at the FIBA Americas event before resuming her career last summer and fall in Australia.

    “I got a great opportunity to just spend the whole summer and really invest in Team Canada and they invested in me a lot,” the native of Smithers, B.C. said.

    “I was able to really develop as a player and I think that’s really helped my game.”

    The mini-camp seems a wonderful idea. The women’s team has long prided itself on its cohesion, and even a few hours together long before summer keeps that cohesion in mind.

    “Last year, a lot of the athletes who were over in Europe took the break and February and said it would be awesome to be able to get together for some treatment, touch up on some things and even just to reconnect,” head coach Lisa Thomaidis, the Dundas, Ont., native and coach of the University of Saskatchewan Huskies, said.

    “We met (Tuesday) morning, the athletes conveyed that they’re excited just to reconnect and set their sights back on what they’re trying to achieve this summer.”

    The draw for the Sept. 22-30 world championships in Tenerife, Spain, was held Tuesday morning. Canada, ranked fifth in the world, is slotted into a first-round group with France, ranked No. 3 in the world, 16th-ranked Korea and No. 20 Greece.

    “It was coincidental that we had the draw this morning but it was cool, like this is what we’re doing this summer, what we’re working towards,” said veteran forward Miranda Ayim, of London.

    Getting to face France in the first round not only gives Canada a chance at some revenge against the team that knocked them out of the quarter-finals at the 2016 Rio Olympics, but also gives them a bit of scouting advantage.

    Six of the women expected to make the final Canadian roster play in the top French league — one of the deepest leagues in the world — so they are familiar with many of their opponents.

    “I’m so looking forward to playing France and getting a bit of redemption for the Olympic game that ended our tournament,” Raincock-Ekunwe said.

    “I’m very happy with our draw.”

  • News

    Recap for February Break

    Miranda and Basket Landes played their last game before the FIBA Europe break yesterday, defeating Roche Vendee soundly at home. With the win, BL sits in 3rd place with 23 points…

  • News

    Wrapping up 2017

    Miranda and Basket Landes finished off their 2017 calendar year with two strong wins vs. Swiss side Fribourg in the Round of 32/playoffs of the EuroCup.   The team went 2-0 in…

  • News Photos

    December Update

    Following a short break in November due to FIBA Europe qualifications, Basket Landes are now down the home stretch of final games in 2017 before the holiday break. Currently the team…

  • News

    Start of Season Update

    The first month and a half of the 2017-2018 season are now in the books and Miranda and her Basket Landes team is currently on a short break as all European…

  • News Photos

    Dramatic Start to EuroCup Season

    Group C action of the 2017-2018 EuroCup campaign tipped off today and what an opening game it was! Basket Landes took on Hungarian side CEKK Cegled in front of their fervent…

  • News Site Updates

    Regular Season Off and Running

    The LFB regular season continued today as Basket Landes traveled north to La Roche-sur-Yon to take on Roche Vendée for Matchday #3. Their opponent were the LF2 (second division) champions last…

  • Articles

    EuroCup Preview

    Game 1 of EuroCup tips off next week as Basket Landes takes on Hungarian side Cegled at home in Group G action. The game is at 8pm local time, 2pm east…

  • News Videos

    LFB Opening Weekend

    Basket Landes took on Hainaut yesterday at the LFB Opening weekend in Paris, officially tipping off the 2017-18 LFB season. The team from the southwest started off strong, building an eight…