Our Canadian Senior Women’s Basketball team is in Hungary this week, hoping to play their way to Paris for the 2024 Olympic Games!
After earning the top spot in their pre-Olympic Qualifying tournament in Colombia in the fall, Canada was placed into the Hungary tournament along with the Hungarian hosts, Japan and Spain. It’s a difficult group, but all Canada needs to do is place top three — so not last place — and they will be headed to the Olympics.
Canada currently sits 5th in the FIBA World rankings. Spain, who they’ll play this week, is right above them in 4th place. Japan is the next highest group member, ranked 9th, and Hungary is 19th in the world.
With three days in a row of action starting tomorrow, Canada is hoping to start their Olympic year off strong, and their roster of rising stars will surely help.
After a pitstop in Vienna, Austria — getting work in and adjusting to European time before the tournament this week — Canada announced the 12 players that will suit up in Hungary. Players have been arriving all week as the team ramps up for the tournament.
Canada is Building Something Special
It’s an exciting time for Canadian basketball, especially when you look at the talent on the Women’s Senior team.
The program is coming off a fourth place finish at the Women’s World Cup in 2022, where they just missed the podium but played an incredible tournament. At the last Olympic Games, they missed the knockout stages.
Making the Olympics this year would mean a fourth straight appearance at the Games for the program. In all three most recent appearances, Canada has placed in the top ten.
Despite just missing a few of these opportunities, the team as a whole has felt like they are on the brink of something big for years. Their talent continues to rise, and with the young women now joining the program, Canada is setting themselves up to be a force to be reckoned with in international Women’s basketball.
Qualifying Tournament Roster
This current roster going into the tournament is a mix of familiar faces and emerging talent. All four current Canadian WNBA players made their way to training camp, as the W is currently in their offseason.
Laeticia Amihere (Atlanta Dream), Bridget Carleton (Minnesota Lynx) and Natalie Achonwa (Free Agent) will suit up in the red and white this week — all played in November’s tournament in Colombia as well.
Unfortunately Kia Nurse (LA Sparks) suffered a minor injury that will sideline her for this tournament.
Canada also has several players on European teams that have made the trip to play. Sami Hill, who is currently averaging 9.4 points per game with Araski AES in Spain’s women’s league, along with Kayla Alexander of Bourges in France, were both late additions to training camp.
Aislinn Konig, Shaina Pellington, Shay Colley, Emily Potter and Nirra Fields are all familiar faces on the roster. Yvonne Ejim of Gonzaga University is the sole NCAA player that will be stepping away from her college squad to compete in Hungary.
The youngest member of the team is high school senior Syla Swords. Swords, who was recently named a McDonalds All-American, currently plays for Long Island Lutheran High School. She’ll head to Michigan in September to start her NCAA career, but is already wowing on the high school basketball courts.
Syla Swords (@SylaSwords) is putting on for her country.— WSLAM (@wslam) January 17, 2024
We talked to the standout about her rise and how she's making a name for herself at Long Island Lutheran, and soon: Michigan.https://t.co/M0anmQRNWa pic.twitter.com/HIz0Vjts6l
The team is led by head coach Victor LaPena, associate head coach Noelle Quinn, and assistants Carly Clarke and Steve Baur.
Canada will play each opposing team once in the tournament. All games will be broadcast on Sportsnet and streamed on the FIBA Youtube channel.
It all starts Thursday February 8th when Canada plays the hosts, Hungary. Tip-off is at 1pm EST (thankfully no middle of the night hoops for us this week).
Friday morning, Canada will play Spain at 9:30am EST. As the two highest ranking teams in this tournament, it will be an important game for Canada to secure a place in the top three.
They’ll close out tournament play against a mighty Japan team Saturday morning at 9:00am EST.
Make sure to cheer on the Canadian Women as they compete this week!