Basketball

Protocol review has national women's basketball training camp in limbo just days from start

A Canadian women's basketball training camp scheduled to begin May 19 in Edmonton is currently in limbo as Alberta Health reviews Canada Basketball’s proposal to hold the event safely.

Alberta Health reviewing proposal for 1st in-person team gathering since Feb. 2020

Coach Lisa Thomaidis works out during practice with player Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe in Toronto in 2018. The team's scheduled training camp for May 19 in Edmonton is uncertain as Alberta Health reviews Canada Basketball's proposal to safely hold the event. (Vince Talotta/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

It's been 15 months since the Canadian women's basketball team gathered in person. Now, the wait may last even longer than anticipated.

A training camp scheduled to begin May 19 in Edmonton is in limbo as Alberta Health reviews Canada Basketball's proposal to hold the event safely.

A spokesperson for Alberta Health says there is no timeframe for when the decision will be made.

Canada Basketball has not yet responded to CBC Sports' request for comment.

Scheduled to be the team's first time together since qualifying for the Olympics last February in Belgium, it would run until June 4 — one week before the FIBA AmeriCup begins in Puerto Rico and just over five weeks until the start of the Olympic women's basketball tournament.

While the training camp and AmeriCup wouldn't include WNBA players like Kia Nurse and Natalie Achonwa, both events still represent a rare chance for most of the fourth-ranked team to practise together ahead of what could be a momentous summer.

Canada has never won a women's Olympic basketball medal. Its only men's podium appearance came at the 1936 Berlin Games on a clay court.

Logistical issues

But the logistics of training camp remain a significant hurdle as players wrap up their international pro seasons across the world.

Guard Aislinn Konig, for example, is in training camp with the WNBA's Washington Mystics, having been granted her release from Switzerland's Elfic Fribourg only once the team found a replacement. However, Konig is fighting for her spot on a Mystics team that has two former MVPs. If she's cut, she'll likely seek to join the national team in Edmonton.

Canadians Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe and Michelle Plouffe are in the middle of a playoff race in France with Lyon. Raincock-Ekunwe says she plans to play out the season, with the last possible date being Saturday's championship game.

Others like Ruth Hamblin and Kayla Alexander have already completed their seasons in Poland and Belgium, respectively.

Meanwhile, Alberta is experiencing the highest active COVID-19 case-rate of any province or territory in Canada as new restrictions banning patios and hair salons came into effect on Monday.

All indoor sports are also banned in the province, meaning an exception would have to be made for Team Canada.

The team's last training camp in February was held virtually with players in the midst of their international seasons.

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