By Morris Dalla Costa
London Free Press
August 18, 2017
Miranda Ayim is a tremendous basketball player. She’s become a leader with the women’s national team and although only 29, she is now the veteran presence, a player that younger players will look up to.
You won’t hear that from her though.
The Londoner, a Saunders secondary school graduate, is one of the most understated, modest individuals you can talk to. Following her on social media, it takes but a few views to understand she’s also highly aware of how the world around her works.
She really is what a member of a national team should represent.
Ayim is home for a couple of days before heading back to France, where she plays professional basketball.
She’s taking a little time to wind down from what was one of her most successful international tournaments. She was a leader in Canada’s defence of the 2017 FIBA Women’s AmeriCup title in Argentina.
Canada defeated home-side Argentina 67-65. Ayim was named to the tournament all-star team after scoring 10 points in the final.
She also captained the team in that final game.
The win was especially satisfying since the national team has undergone big changes with the retirement of several players. The team has gone to a different style of play and from the initial results the changes were not only successful but embraced by the members of the team.
“It was a revamping of system if you will,” Ayim said. “It was a transition year with a lot of people retiring, some people moving up and young people coming in. I think the plays (coach Lisa Thomaidis) has implemented is a move to a more athletic style of play, which compliments the kind of players we have. It was an appropriate move at the time and it paid off.”
The changes obviously agreed with Ayim.
“My style of play is generally quite fast-paced — the same athletic style of play. It fit in with my style of play,” she said. “Plus it was also a great group of girls. It was good on and off the court and it’s always fun to play in South America. It’s a completely different style of play than playing in Europe. There’s always a lot of passion and energy that goes on at these types of tournaments.”
That’s putting it mildly. South American basketball fans are wild and passionate about their game.
“You are getting booed throughout the final game and after when you are receiving you medals,” Ayim laughed. “It was crazy but that’s exactly what we wanted going into that tournament. We wanted to have that final game against Argentina on their home court. What better atmosphere do you have? It’s a cool environment when you know everyone is against you and you have to dig deep in that moment and find the composure to create your own energy.”
Ayim says the changes to the team created energy.
“When you have a lot of youth coming up when they play with that kind of energy all the time you have no choice but to be swept up in that,” she said. “We started to play together and especially near the end, we started to feel how to really play and read the other players on the court and that was pretty exciting.”
Ayim says her performance was especially gratifying because she ended her professional season in France hobbling by some injuries.
“I took some time off this summer just to kind of recover from some injuries,” she said. “It was much needed a really helpful coming back into a team that was already formulated. It was an easy transition for me because I’d already been there, knew all the staff and some of the girls coming back. But it was also because it was so new for everybody; everybody was really open and ready to play.”
Ayim has a quick turnaround before heading back to France for her team’s preseason. She’s ready.
“I know I’ll be in shape,” she laughed.
Ayim wasn’t the only player who participated in the tournament for the national team. Also on the roster was Chatham’s Bridget Carleton and former Western Mustang and Bright’s Grove native Laura Dally.