It was about as encouraging a start as the Canadian senior women’s basketball team could ask for on their road to the World Cup.
Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe and Bridget Carleton each poured in 14 points as the Canadian senior women’s national basketball team came away with a convincing 78-45 victory over Turkey on Wednesday in the Edmonton Grads International Classic, a tune-up for the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup, taking place in September in Tenerife, Spain.
Canada is ranked a program-high fifth in the global standings, while Turkey is ranked seventh.
“We held them to 12 points in the first half, which was great,” said Canada coach Lisa Thomaidis. “We let up a bit in the second half and they executed a little better, but it was a good first game for us.
“Turkey has some injuries, so it was a matter of holding ourselves accountable to ourselves. We know we are going to play some pretty darn good teams down the road here, and we still have the chance to test ourselves against them again It was our first game and we have some wrinkles to work through, but there were lots of good signs as well. I thought our athleticism and our depth showed.”
Montreal’s Nirra Fields, who had a 13-point night, felt her team’s strong play without the ball gave them the edge.
“I thought that we played great defence overall as a team,” she said. “We really pressured and did whatever we needed on defence to really propel our offence. We really pushed each other. We haven’t been together that long and our offence is coming along, which we know takes more time.”
The Canadian women were fifth in the world tournament in 2014, their best result since capturing bronze medals in 1986.
Despite not dressing many of its expected starters for the worlds, Canada staked out a 13-0 lead in the opening five minutes of the contest, four of those points coming from Fields.
Turkey, which also put out far from its A-team, closed the gap to 17-7 at the end of the first quarter.
The host team picked up the pace again to stake out a 29-10 lead midway through the second and 35-12 at the half, with Fields leading the way with 11 points at the mid-mark, followed Carleton, from Chatham, Ont., with eight.
Canada’s dominance in the match continued in the third quarter, as it entered the final quarter with a 65-29 advantage.
It was the first of a three-game series between the two teams, with additional games taking place on Friday and Saturday in Edmonton.
It was the third edition of the Edmonton Grads International Classic (EGIC), which honours the Edmonton Grads, the legendary women’s basketball team that swept four consecutive Olympic games from 1924 to 1936 and complied a 96.2 winning-percentage and winning 502 of 522 games over a 35-year span. The two previous events featured Canada facing the national teams of China in 2016 and Brazil in 2014? The Canadian women’s senior national basketball team has made its training base in Edmonton since 2013, during which time it has won two FIBA Americas championships and competed in both the Olympics and at the worlds.
© 2018 The Canadian Press