Olympic basketball qualifier: Canadian women rout Puerto Rico
Pan Am hero Kia Nurse contributes 10 points
Canada's women's basketball team has picked up right where they left off from the Pan American Games.
Captain Kim Gaucher tied for the team lead with 11 points as the Canadians beat Puerto Rico 94-57 in their opening game of the FIBA Americas women's basketball championship on Sunday.
Canada, fresh off its gold medal win over the United States at the Pan Ams in Toronto, led 30-22 after the first quarter thanks in part to an early eight points in the first five minutes by Gaucher.
"It was a strong start offensively for us," Canadian coach Lisa Thomaidis said. "We got a bit sloppy in the second half and the turnovers mounted, but that tends to happen when you get some separation on the board. Overall it was a good first game for us."
The Canadians extended their lead to 56-29 at the half and to 79-41 after the third quarter.
If you're going to another Team Canada game, bring an umbrella. This team makes it rain! Canada is 10-15 from 3. ☔️#WeAreTeamCanada—@CanBball
Miah-Marie Langlois and Lizanne Murphy also had 11 points for Canada, which entered the tournament ranked third in the Americas and 10th in the world. Kia Nurse added 10 points.
Gaucher said it felt good to get the first game of the tournament out of the way.
"You want to come out and set the tone and I think we did that, offensively," she said. "We just need to do it better defensively as well.
"We need to work on having a more consistent 40-minute effort, but it was a good start, for sure."
Jennifer O'Neill and Marie Placido led the way with 12 points apiece for Puerto Rico — ranked seventh in the Americas and 28th in the world ratings.
Only the winner of the FIBA Americas tournament was slated to gain automatic entry straight through to next summer's Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Earlier Sunday, it was announced that Brazil would be granted automatic entry as the Olympic host. A decision was handed down in Tokyo that the Brazil Basketball Confederation would make good on an outstanding debt to FIBA.
As a result, if the Brazilian women should happen to merge victorious in Edmonton, the second place team will earn the berth to Rio.
"We want to win every game, regardless of whether Brazil is in or not in," Thomaidis said. "It's unfortunate, waiting so long to get the decision. It kept some teams hanging. But the mission is still the same for us regardless of that decision. Having said that, it is always nice to know that they are in."
Canada will now face Chile (ranked sixth in Americas, 26th in the world) on Monday.
Chile defeated the Dominican Republic 88-56 in their first round robin game earlier Sunday.