Road To The Olympic Games

Basketball·Preview

Canadian basketball women eye 2nd place in group

Having already clinched a spot in the Olympic quarter-finals, Canada is looking to secure second place in its group as it takes on Spain in its final preliminary game on Sunday.

Canada has already qualified for quarter-finals

Canada will be looking to Kim Gaucher (pictured) to fire against Spain in their final preliminary match against third-ranked Spain on Sunday. (Carlos Osorio-The Associated Press)

By Justin Robertson, CBC Sports

Having already clinched a spot in the Olympic quarter-finals, Canada's women's basketball team is looking to secure second place in its group as it takes on Spain in its final preliminary game on Sunday.

With a record of 3-1, Canada remains in the hunt for an Olympic medal. The top two contenders for gold appear to be the Americans and the Australians, who are both undefeated in the preliminary round.

Similar paths

Canada, which is ranked ninth in the world by FIBA, sits in third place in Group B — behind the first-place U.S. (4-0) and Spain (3-1), which gets the edge over Canada because of its superior point differential.

Canada's only loss is a 30-point drubbing by the Americans, but Canada was the only team to keep the U.S. under 100 points. The Canadians opened the tournament with a comfortable 22-point win over China, miraculously came back from 29 points down to beat Serbia by four, and did enough to down Senegal by 10.

Spain has had a similar run. They lost to the Americans by 40 points, narrowly beat Serbia by six, defeated China by 21 and thumped Senegal by 54.

Keys for Canada

For the Canadians, NCAA guard Kia Nurse has led the way in scoring. She's scored 47 points in four games, including a game-high 25 against Serbia. Forward Tamara Tatham has chipped in with 45 points, while guard Miah-Marie Langlois has been lively from outside the arc at times and is averaging six points per game.

Captain Kim Gaucher has worked hard on defence, adding her presence around the boards at both ends of the court. If this quartet can fire for four periods, Canada has every chance at beating Spain.

What's at stake

You could argue that this game is a dead rubber, seeing as how Canada has already qualified for the knockout rounds, but finishing in second place has merit. Consider this: If they overcome Spain, the Canadians could play 16th-ranked Japan or 10th-ranked Turkey in the quarter-finals. A loss to Spain could mean a clash with France, who are ranked fourth. A win against Spain means an easier path for Canada to the semifinals, where they would likely meet Australia.

Game time

Canada will play Spain at 4:45 p.m. on Sunday. Watch live on cbc.ca/olympics, the CBC Rio 2016 app and on CBC TV). 

What's next

Monday is a rest day. The quarter-finals start Tuesday, with the gold medal match on Saturday, Aug.20.

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