Quarter-final spot in limbo for Canadian women's basketball team after loss to Spain

Canada’s fate at the Tokyo Olympic basketball tournament is now out of its hands. Spain beat Canada 76-66 in an early morning game in Japan that it led from start to finish.

Team now waits to learn whether point differential enough to reach knockout rounds

Spain's Astou Ndour drives to the basket against Canada's Natalie Achonwa during the second half of Spain's victory at the Tokyo Olympics on Sunday in Japan. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Canada's fate at the Tokyo Olympic basketball tournament is now out of its hands.

Spain beat Canada 76-66 in an early-morning game in Japan that it led from start to finish.

"I'm just disappointed and heartbroken for our team," Canadian head coach Lisa Thomaidis said. "Certainly not the outcome we were hoping for. Now we have to sit back and wait."

After cutting Spain's lead to six at halftime, Canada was undone by a sloppy start to the second half. A series of turnovers and missed shots led to a 16-4 Spain run that pushed the lead to 18.

WATCH | Spain upends Canada:

Canada did manage to respond with an 18-4 run of its own to cut Spain's lead to six, but couldn't get any closer.

"At the start of the first and the third quarter we didn't have that defensive intensity that Canada is used to and Spain took full advantage of that," said Canadian forward Natalie Achonwa.

"It starts on the defensive end for us. That's a choice we have to make and we weren't able to do that today," added Canada's Bridget Carleton.

In the fourth quarter, whenever Canada threatened, it then committed a costly turnover or Spain made a clutch three-pointer.

Spain was scorching from the field, making 59 per cent of its shot attempts.

Spain's Laura Gil attempts a shot against Canada's Bridget Carleton. (Aris Messinis/Pool via REUTERS)

The real difference in this game was points in the paint, where Spain torched Canada 44-24, led by six-foot-six centre Astou Ndour, who finished with a game high 20 points, many of them easy layups.

Similar to its loss to Serbia to begin this tournament, Canada was unable to play with high energy and focus at both ends for an entire 40 minutes.

'Hoping and praying'

Canada will now have to sit back and wait to see if its time in Tokyo will continue.

"Just hoping and praying and hopefully we can sneak in and reset and focus," said Carleton.

Whether Canada secures a spot in the quarter-finals now depends on the results of other games. And the team may want to have some calculators handy.

In Tokyo, 12 teams are divided into three groups of four during the preliminary stage.

Spain's Laura Gil goes to the basket past Canada's Kia Nurse, left, and Laeticia Amihere, right. (Aris Messinis/AFP via Getty Images)

The top two teams from each group, plus the two best third-place teams, advance to the quarter-finals. 

Today's loss means Canada finishes group play at 1-2, likely third place in its pool.

Through three games, Canada has a plus-seven point differential. To reach the quarter-finals, it will need that number to be better than one of the two other third-place finishers.

France, currently third in Group B, sits at plus-21 with a game to come against the top-ranked U.S. Australia, currently third in Group C, is minus-17 with a game remaining against lowly Puerto Rico.

Both of those games are on Monday in Japan.

"Just sit in our rooms and wait. There's not much else you can do in the village. Just going [to] sit and watch some T.V.," said Kia Nurse, who led Canada with 14 points.

"We have high hopes and we still do," added Thomaidis. "We are not done yet. We are going to wait this out and hopefully get through to the next round."

Add some “good” to your morning and evening.

A variety of newsletters you'll love, delivered straight to you.

Sign up now