20 players named to roster for virtual Canada Basketball women's training camp

Less than six months from the start of the Tokyo Olympics, Canada women’s basketball team is still forced to hold its training camps online. Twenty players were named to the roster for this week’s virtual event on Monday.

Team nearing 1 year since last together in person as Tokyo Olympics approach

Canada's Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe is seen above during a game at the 2016 Olympics. On Monday, the team announced it was holding a virtual camp this week with 20 players in preparation for the Tokyo Games. (Phil Walter/Getty Images)

Less than six months from the start of the Tokyo Olympics, Canada women's basketball team is still forced to hold its training camps online.

Twenty players were named to the roster for this week's virtual event on Monday, including WNBA players Kia Nurse, Bridget Carleton, Natalie Achonwa and Kayla Alexander.

It's now been nearly one year since the team was together in person, when it swept its Olympic qualifying tournament with three wins against host Belgium, Japan and Sweden.

"There have been tremendous individual and collective efforts made by both our athletes and staff, as they continue to diligently work together throughout the COVID-19 pandemic," said Canada Basketball's director of women's high performance Denise Dignard.

Training camp on video chat won't be anything new. Led by head coach Lisa Thomaidis, the team has met regularly through this forum since the beginning of the pandemic as players have either been grounded at home or spread across the world in various professional leagues.

Still, Canada, ranked fourth by FIBA, may be at a disadvantage as one of few teams not able to meet in person.

USA Basketball is holding its training camp this week at the University of South Carolina, where head coach Dawn Staley presides over the Gamecocks. Other European teams have most or all of their players already stationed at home in domestic pro leagues.

Canada, meanwhile, has players in the U.S., France, Italy, Belgium, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey and Germany.

"We have an incredible group of people on this team who have displayed genuine dedication and commitment to our teams' growth and improvement during this time," said Thomaidis.

"We've had to take a different approach to our Olympic preparation process than we had originally anticipated but I know our hard work is going to pay off."

Canada will learn its Olympic draw on Tuesday. Its next opportunity to meet – hopefully in person – won't be until after European leagues wrap up in May, when Canada is expected to hold training camp in Edmonton ahead of the Tokyo Games.

Team meetings within the last year have centred around everything from on-court strategy to social catch-ups, which players say they expect to continue at training camp.

"I don't know a lot of other national teams are doing that," forward Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe recently told CBC Sports. "So I'm really happy that we can just keep the connection through a year of disconnection."

Full roster

  • Natalie Achonwa, forward, Minnesota Lynx (WNBA)/Famila Schio (Italy).
  • Kayla Alexander, forward, Minnesota Lynx (WNBA)/Mithra Castors Braine (Belgium).
  • Laeticia Amihere, forward, South Carolina (NCAA).
  • Miranda Ayim, forward, Basket Landes (France).
  • Bridget Carleton, guard, Minnesota Lynx (WNBA).
  • Shay Colley, guard.
  • Quinn Dornstauder, centre, Cadi La Seu (Spain).
  • Aaliyah Edwards, guard, UConn (NCAA).
  • Nirra Fields, guards, Anatalya 07 (Turkey).
  • Kim Gaucher, guard, USO Mondeville (France).
  • Ruth Hamblin, centre, Politechnika Gdanska (Poland).
  • Sami Hill, guard, Nantes Reze Basket (France).
  • Aislinn Konig, guard, Fribourg (Switzerland).
  • Miah-Marie Langlois, guard.
  • Kia Nurse, guard, New York Liberty (WNBA).
  • Shaina Pellington, guard, Arizona (NCAA).
  • Daneesha Provo, guard, Eisvogel Freiburg (Germany).
  • Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe, forward, Lyon ASVEL (France).
  • Merissah Russell, guard, Louisville (NCAA).
  • Jamie Scott, guard, Tarbes (France).

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