Canada demolishes Venezuela at women's FIBA Americas
Kendel Ross leads charge in 89-45 win
Canada's women's basketball team took another step closer in its quest for a world championship berth.
Kendel Ross scored 16 points to lead the undefeated Canadians to an 89-45 rout of Venezuela at the FIBA Americas Championship on Tuesday, assuring themselves a spot in the semifinals.
But after three lopsided victories, Canada knows it faces a much tougher test Wednesday in Cuba for top spot in Group A.
"They play hard when they need to and when they have a lead, they kind of coast," Canada's coach Lisa Thomaidis said of Cuba. "So we need to have some realistic impression of what they're going to bring and overestimate what we've seen from them so far."
Kim Gaucher, Kia Nurse, and Natalie Achonwa added 12 points apiece for Canada, while Tamara Tatham grabbed a game-high eight rebounds.
The world No. 9-ranked Canadians opened the tournament with a 75-37 win over Jamaica, then cruised past Chile 93-51.
The 14th-ranked Cubans have won by similarly lopsided scores, while Brazil and Puerto Rico have dominated the other side of the draw.
The Canadians shot 47 per cent from the field against Venezuela, outrebounding their opponent 52-25, and outscoring them 16-4 on second-chance points.
Still, Thomaidis wasn't pleased with her team's performance.
"We just weren't very sharp, our offensive precision was not there. We didn't think we brought a lot of defensive energy," Thomaidis said. "It's one of those tough games, the result should be a foregone conclusion. However you still want to maintain that level of intensity and energy heading into our most important game, which is [Wednesday]."
The lopsided games have allowed Thomaidis to rotate her roster, giving key players such as Gaucher and guard Shona Thorburn some rest. The team had talked before the tournament began about the importance of maintaining their focus when they're not playing.
"When we're on the bench, you have to be engaged, whether you're bringing energy by talking to your teammates or just cheering your teammates on," Ross said. "That's really what you have to do, you have to stay in the game, you can't just be on the bench kind of looking around wondering what's going on in Mexico. You really have to keep yourself focused and be ready for your number to be called."
Canada is gunning for its third straight world championship appearance, and needs to finish top three in Mexico to earn a spot in the 2014 world tournament in Istanbul.
The semifinals are Friday, with the medal games scheduled for Saturday.