The Canadian Senior Women’s National Basketball Team will not make the quarterfinals and exited earlier than expected from the Olympics. It is a disappointing ending for a team that is currently ranked 4th in the world by FIBA and told the media that this Olympics was supposed to be a “medal or bust”. It did not come true and the Canadian team has left Tokyo and now going home, either to Canada or their respective WNBA Teams/college teams as well.
This team came in with so much potential, only to play subpar in two of their three games in the group play. Granted, these Olympics came with so many challenges for the athletes as well as the families, so it was always going to be difficult. But, the high hopes and expectations were still there for the women’s team.
Their early exit can be attributed to a four point loss to Serbia in their opening game of group play in which they missed so many shots and free throws that could’ve went in Canada’s favour to win the game. But, sadly, it did not.
They did fix their mistakes in the second game against Korea and responded with a great win to keep their quarterfinal hopes alive. That team that played in the game was the team that Canada Basketball would be an outside medal contender. They played brilliantly in that game and Natalie Achonwa was a key reason for that. She’s been on the senior team for many years now and she showed her veteran experience in a must-win game.
In their final game of group play, Canada faced a talented team in Spain that was ranked ahead of them in the world. Spain’s talent and star power powered them to a win that came so easily to them. They grabbed the lead in the first and third quarters and it was enough to win by double digits. Canada did fight in the second and fourth quarters to make it a game, but it wasn’t enough and by then, it was too little too late.
I’ve been watching this team since they made headlines for qualifying into one of the last minute Olympic qualifiers in 2012 for the London Olympics and at that time, nine years ago, it was just great to get into the Olympics. There was a sense of enlightened joy just for simply making the Olympics.
I started covering the team on this blog when the 2016 Rio Olympics came around. At that time, five years ago, Canada did have some Olympic experience among them, but they were not expected to medal. They just wanted to play to just advance to the quarterfinals and get some more experience in them. They did qualify for the quarterfinals, but lost to France by five points in the quarterfinals. They ended the Olympics in seventh place overall.
This Olympics was supposed to be different. Instead, the women’s team took a step back from all of their progress in the previous Olympics and are going to finish in ninth place overall. It’s not great for a program that is supposed to be on the rise by stumbling this time around. It’s sad to see Kim Gaucher and Miranda Ayim end their careers this way, when both of them worked so hard to ensure Canada’ success on the international stage. Ayim has stated that she will retire and Kim Gaucher is 37 years old and probably won’t be on the next Olympics team.
I’m not sure of what to say, but in conclusion, this is so disappointing. A step back doesn’t help and Canada has much to fix before the next Olympics roll around in three years in Paris. It will be highly interesting to see who makes the roster then. It will also be interesting to see if there will be a new head coach as well. The women’s team has still much to learn and improve on, because the other countries like China, Belgium as well as previously mentioned Serbia have become better and improved. The United States will always be the top team in this field because of the talent they have, but the other countries are getting better too.