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Edmonton Grads Wrap Up

Team Canada took on fellow Olympic-bound Team China last week in the Edmonton Grads International Classic.

Canada swept China in the 3-game series in front of a loud and supportive home crowd.

Miranda played in all 3 games, scoring a combined 33 points and earning game MVP in the second game.

Below is a game write up from the Edmonton Journal that features some quotes from Miranda.

Next up…Rio!

Canada comes on after slow start to beat China at Edmonton Grads Invitational
By Jason Hills
Edmonton Journal
July 10, 2016

The games are only going to get tougher from here on out, and the Canadian senior women’s national team showed they can handle the pressure when the going gets tough.

Canada went toe-to-toe with China for three quarters, before breaking the game open in the final quarter in a 74-62 victory Sunday night in the second game of the Edmonton Grads Invitational Classic at the Saville Community Sports Centre.

“They made us work for everything tonight. They came out more physically tonight than they did yesterday and I think the three-ball kept them in it early for them. They had five different people make threes and that was a difference maker,” said Team Canada head coach Lisa Thomaidis.

“Defensively, they’re making us work and we have to be sharp, and that’s exactly what we want right now.”

Veteran forward Miranda Ayim led Canada with 15 points, while guard Nirra Fields record 12 points and four assists.

At one point in the first half, Fields scored back-to-back-to-back buckets in less than a minute to help swing the momentum for Canada.

If you needed a reason to know why Canada is considered a medal threat next month at the Olympics in Rio, Sunday was a great example.

They have many different weapons and ways to beat you. On a night when their shooting beyond the arc wasn’t there (2 for 9), they took the game into the paint, and they dominated the much bigger China team outscoring them 38-12.

“I feel like we have a lot of different things we can go to right now,” said Thomaidis.

“Being able to keep them off balance a little bit with different looks was nice. I though Nirra really got it going for us and was a spark, and Miranda and Katherine (Plouffe) really got it going and got their bigs off the dribble and that’s going to have to continue.”

In the opening game of the Edmonton Grads tournament, Ayim started, but with these tune up games heading into Rio, Team Canada’s coaching staff is experimenting with different lineups and combinations to see what works.

On Sunday, Ayim came off the bench and provided a big boost — especially in the opening quarter when Canada was trying to find their game.

“If you’re in that second wave, you have to bring that little extra something — that fire,” said Ayim.

“I think when I’m called on the floor, I’m always ready to go.”

After a sloppy opening game for China, they came out with a much stronger effort against Canada. They hit some big shots, and were always pushing. They held a 18-13 lead after the first quarter, and the two teams battled back and forth for the majority of the game that featured seven lead changes and was tied on 12 different occasions.

“We talked about this last night. China’s a good team and they just travelled literally from China to come play here and they weren’t exactly themselves last night and we knew they’d come back and give us a better game today,” said Ayim.

“We need challenging games. We need a lot of pressure so that we know what we need to do when we face that pressure in the Olympics.”

One strong dynamic Canada has is their ability to take over games on the glass. It doesn’t matter if you’re a guard or a forward, the players are aggressive and fight hard for every rebound.

“We have people to drive in there and go up and make contact. Post up and get rebounds,” said Ayim.

“Everybody can get on the board and everyone can score inside.”

Katherine Plouffe and Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe had strong games at both ends of the floor. Plouffe and Raincock-Ekunwe scored nine and eight points respectively, while leading Canada with five rebounds each.

Both teams play the final game of the series Monday night (7 p.m.) at the Saville.

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