Team England’s Women will look to start the pool stage with a win against Canada in Townsville tomorrow. The game will mark Canada’s basketball debut at the Commonwealth Games as they look to come away with a medal at the first time of asking.
“We are ready to begin the tournament. We want to go from less to more, than is the plan as we move through,” said Women’s Head Coach Jose Maria Buceta. “I’m happy with the players. There’s a great commitment and enthusiasm and they’re really putting the best of themselves into playing for and representing England.”
Canada’s women are seeded #2 for the tournament behind hosts Australia and have named a youthful squad for the Games. Head Coach Steve Baur has taken a development route with his roster, naming players from Europe, NCAA, Canadian college and even the high school ranks.
"Our main objective in forming the roster were athletes that we have targeted for either 2020 or 2024 Olympic teams," said Baur, to CBC in Canada. "We're using this as an evaluation period. To get a chance to get some time with them and see them against other pro athletes from different countries. I do think we'll have strength in our interior and size and I think against some of the countries that will be a place we can lean on a bit as both our interior scoring and interior defence."
Despite their developmental outlook, this competition is far from a dress rehearsal for England’s opening opponents. They’re ranked highly for a reason and have already qualified for the 2018 FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup.
For England captain Stef Collins, the threat posed by Canada is well known, “Canada are a world class team with world class athletes. They are a talented group who have a great mix of youth and experience,” she said. “We’ll need to be ready to defend 6’7” forward Ruth Hamblin around the basket and contain the guard play in transition from the likes of Danielle Boiago and Shay Colley.”
Going up against higher ranked opposition isn’t phasing the England camp though, they’re more than ready to get out on the court and represent their country. “We know we’ve come here to do a job,” said guard Nicolette Fong Lyew Quee. “We’ll be excited but we’ll blank that out and try to get a win. Canada are a young team, pretty big, but if we play our own game we’ll be fine.”
Stef Collins has been here before as a 2012 Olympian and with more international caps than any GB player in the modern era. With just 1 day to go before the tournament gets underway, her message to the team is simple, “Believe, trust the process. Be proud to represent England, do it with honour and enjoy the moment.”
Date: Friday 6 April
Tip: 9:30am (UK Time)
Stage: Pool B – Group Play
How to follow: We’ll have coverage and commentary throughout the game on our Twitter feed, @bballengland. The game may also be chosen for coverage by the BBC, either on their main channels, the red button service, or online. If a feed is available online, it will be signposted from the main BBC Sport website
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