Canada Advances Past Argentina to FIBA Women’s Americup 2023 Semifinal
LÉON, Mexico (July 7, 2023) -The Canadian Senior Women’s National Team advanced to the FIBA Women’s AmeriCup 2023 semifinals after defeating Argentina 68-60 in Mexico on Friday.
Nirra Fields led all scorers with 22 points, while Aaliyah Edwards had a huge 13-point, 16-rebound double-double to lead Canada. Shay Colley added 11 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, and Kayla Alexander had nine points.
“I feel so happy,” Fields said. “I’m really proud of my team. We fought until the end. We played great defence. Our offence wasn’t working and we just kept trying to get steals, trying to play tough defence, and we played until the end. I’m really happy for them.”
Argentina was led by Julieta Mungo’s 12 points in the loss, while Melisa Gretter had 11 points and Candela Gentinetta added 10.
“It was a tough game,” Team Canada head coach Víctor Lapeña said. “We knew that. Argentina is an amazing, competitive team. They were very close to beating Brazil, very close to beating the USA. They beat Venezuela yesterday. We knew that. I think maybe in the first period and the third period we played Argentina pace. When we learned how to play against them, we found the spaces we needed to create good basketball.”
Canada trailed 6-0 to begin the game, but that would be their largest deficit. The Canadians quickly shook off the slow start to take their first lead with 3:22 remaining in the opening quarter after a bucket for Yvonne Ejim. After the opening 10 minutes, Argentina held a 20-18 lead.
Merissah Russell hit a three-pointer to begin the second quarter and move Canada back in front. After a steal from Russell, Alexander scored inside on back-to-back possessions, putting Canada ahead by three. Fields stole the ball and found Syla Swords in transition for the easy layup to extend the advantage to five points. Next, Fields hit a jump shot while being fouled. She made the free throw to complete the three-point play. Canada closed the half strong, scoring seven straight points to win the quarter 20-0, and take a 38-30 lead into the break.
Thanks to the dominant effort from Edwards on the boards, Canada out-rebounded Argentina 54-33 in the game, including 21-4 on the offensive glass.
Florencia Chagas opened the third quarter with back-to-back three-pointers for Argentina to cut Canada’s lead to two, but Canada stayed calm and didn’t surrender their lead. Fields hit a jumper to keep Canada in front by four and then followed that up with a three-pointer of her own, extending Canada’s advantage to seven.
A three from Colley made it a nine-point advantage with 3:40 remaining in the third. On Canada’s next possession, Colley drove baseline for the layup as Argentina called timeout, trailing 51-40 with 3:19 remaining in the third.
In a reverse of the second quarter, it was Argentina who closed the third strong. Argentina used an 11-0 run to tie the game with under a minute remaining in the quarter, but Colley drilled another three, and Canada took a 54-51 lead into the fourth.
Fields opened the fourth with a three-pointer, extending the advantage to six points. After a pair of free throws for Edwards, Canada led by eight with 7:58 remaining. Fields made it a nine-point game with another jumper at the midway point of the quarter.
A layup and then three-pointer from Melissa Gretter brought Argentina within four with 2:33 remaining, but again it was Fields who responded with a pull-up jumper to extend Canada’s lead back to six with 1:31 remaining. A huge steal from Sami Hill led to free throws for Edwards with 33.3 seconds remaining. She sank both to extend the advantage to eight and seal the victory for Canada.
After the victory, Lapeña took time to congratulate Argentina, while also voicing support for the program as they navigate FIBA’s qualification system.
“I would like to say congratulations, first to my team, because their resilience today was amazing,” he said. “I would also like to say congratulations to Argentina and their coach Gregorio Martinez, and especially to the team manager Karina Rodriguez. I learned now that they cannot compete to get a place in the pre-Olympic [tournament]. But they are doing an amazing job and I think they deserve to play and compete for this place. Unfortunately, the system in FIBA Americas is different. I think FIBA has to talk about it because they work a lot. They are tremendous workers. Countries, federations. Everybody works a lot to have the same opportunities, Africa, Asia, Europe and America. One World.”
Next up for Canada is a meeting with the United States in the semifinals on Saturday, July 8, time to be determined. Fans can catch all of the action live on Sportsnet NOW.
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