Shooting for Tokyo, Women’s basketball returns to Edmonton
EDMONTON -- The Canadian Women’s national basketball team is getting ready for their make-or-break tournament on the road to Tokyo 2020.
The Canadian women are currently ranked #4 in the world, their best-ever ranking.
Edmonton is playing host to one of the pre-qualifying tournaments happening all over the globe.
Four teams from the FIBA Women’s AmeriCup are playing in Edmonton for the chance to compete in the final qualifying tournament in February 2020.
Teams from the Dominican Republic, Cuba and Puerto Rico round out the bracket Canada is in.
The Canadian national team made Edmonton their home in 2013 and they said that being here has contributed to their rise in the rankings.
“You know you take good things when they come but we can say Edmonton definitely has played a part in it,” said player Kia Nurse. “I think it’s not only just that comfort level we have but the fact that people show up to our games and they show up and they're loud and they're proud and they're decked out in Canada gear.”
Kia Nurse, sister of Oilers defenceman Darnell Nurse, plays pro basketball for the New York Liberty of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA).
Nurse is one of five pro WNBA players on the Canadian national team, the highest number they have ever had before.
“Five WNBA players on a 12-person roster, that’s impressive,” said Paul Sir with the Alberta Basketball Association. “The leagues that they’re coming from that aren’t the WNBA, they’re no slouches either."
Sir said that while Edmonton has been good to the players, the players have also been good for Edmonton.
“In a lot of communities, not just in Canada but around the world and even in the U.S., numbers are declining in young girl’s participation in organized sports in general. But we have a very fast-growing participation level of young girls and I relate it directly to this,” said Sir.
“We want this to be the home of womens basketball for the long-term because we feel they have become an integral part of the community.”
There are two games per day at the Edmonton EXPO Centre on Nov. 14, Nov. 16 and Nov. 17.
With Files from Adam Cook