Canadian women claim inaugural FIBA AmeriCup title
Nirra Fields named tournament MVP after victory over Argentina
Kia Nurse was there when Canada needed her most.
Nurse put the Canadian squad ahead for good with just 1:27 to play en route to winning the FIBA women's AmeriCup with a 67-65 victory over Argentina on Sunday.
.<a href="https://twitter.com/CanBball">@CanBball</a> 🇨🇦 is the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/AmeriCupWomen2017?src=hash">#AmeriCupWomen2017</a> champion! Defeat <a href="https://twitter.com/cabboficial">@cabboficial</a> 🇦🇷 67-65. <a href="https://t.co/AhML7rvpPD">pic.twitter.com/AhML7rvpPD</a>—@FIBA
She finished with a team-high 12 points on just 4-of-11 shooting, but hit her biggest shot as Canada trailed 65-64 with the tournament on the line.
"This is exactly the kind of game that you dream about, the ones that go back and forth," said Canadian coach Lisa Thomaidis.
"Neither team has it secured from start to finish and those are the games that you learn so much about yourself and your team when you have an opportunity like this. And to play in an environment like this, you cannot replicate this environment."
Nirra Fields entered the final as Canada's top scorer, averaging 16 points per game, and was named tournament MVP. She finished with only seven points on 3-of-10 shooting in the championship, although hit 1-of-2 free throws with six seconds to go to help seal the victory.
This is Canada's second straight FIBA women's AmeriCup title (formerly FIBA Americas championship for women) after defeating Cuba 82-66 in Edmonton in 2015.
"It feels amazing. It's the second title in a row and we are writing history," said Fields. "The team is feeling great and we are all celebrating. We are happy that we put in a team effort today and got the win.
👏👏 Congratulations <a href="https://twitter.com/NirraFields">@NirraFields</a> named <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/AmeriCupWomen2017?src=hash">#AmeriCupWomen2017</a> MVP! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/WeAreTeamCanada?src=hash">#WeAreTeamCanada</a> <a href="https://t.co/uxAnEnOKfs">pic.twitter.com/uxAnEnOKfs</a>—@CanBball
Miranda Ayim and Mia-Marie Langlois each chipped in 10 points for the Canadians. Melisa Gretter led Argentina with a game-high 23 points while Macarena Rosset added 18.
A 29-13 run in the third quarter gave the Canadians their first lead after entering halftime down by seven, but Argentina bounced back in the fourth with an 18-8 run to make it 65-64 with less than two minutes to play.
Argentina gave the Canadians their most difficult test of the tournament after both nations finished the group phase with 4-0 records.
Canada beat Brazil by 39 points in the semis and its closest margin of victory prior to the tournament final was a 16-point win against Puerto Rico.
"I'm so proud of our team. We are young, we have a bunch of new players and we really weren't tested until this game. We were knocked back on our heels at the beginning of the game and we had to regroup and credit to (Argentina)."
The Canadians had already qualified for the 2018 World Cup in Spain with their 84-45 semifinal victory against Brazil.
Earlier in the day, Puerto Rico toppled Brazil 75-68 to claim third place.