Canadian women's basketball team will go to the 2012 London Olympics
July 3, 2012
Olympic qualifying games are currently being held the world over to determine which nations will advance to complete in the 2012 London Olympics, and Canada recently defeated Japan in women's basketball for a spot in the Games. The North American team defeated Japan 71 to 63 to be the last of five teams to play for the gold in London, according to Yahoo! Canada.
"I think this is real big," Canadian guard Courtnay Pilypaitis told the Canadian Press. "All the young female basketball players now are going to be able to watch us compete at the Olympics and they too can have that dream. Not seeing someone in the Olympics, that might go by the wayside. But now they have us to look up to as role models and that younger generation can just feed off that and hopefully continue and make it in the next four years."
There is only one veteran Olympian on the women's Canadian basketball team - guard Teresa Gabriele, who competed in the 2000 Olympics. The team's narrow defeat of Japan took place on Canada Day, which Pilypaitis told Yahoo! helped fuel their competitiveness during the final qualifying game. Pilypaitis, an Ontario native who plays professionally in Lithuania, was the top scoring player with 21 points and six assists. Gabriele contributed 11 points, seven rebounds and five assists.
While they played a strong game, Japan's team did not go down easily. Canadian coach Alison McNeil told Yahoo! she and her team worked very hard to get the victory.
"I don't know if I've ever coached a game where I was so in the moment," McNeil told the news source. "We're not the greatest shooting nation and we're not the greatest shooting team, but we're tough mentally and we grind it out. Some nights we shoot better than others."
Canada recently went up against Croatia and France, and the team's shooting percentage was less than ideal - roughly 30 percent. However, they were shooting nearly 54 percent against Japan, which shows hope for the team in London. They will be joining France, Croatia, Turkey and the Czech Republic to duke it out for the gold, The Canadian Press reports.