SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Sixteen months after clinching a Tokyo Olympic berth, Canada's women's basketball team is finally about to step back on the international floor.
Canada Basketball announced its roster Thursday for the AmeriCup tournament, an important tune-up for next month's Tokyo Olympics, and the first step in qualifying for the 2022 FIBA Women's World Cup.
"After a few weeks of training together, we're ready to hit the court and measure ourselves against other teams in the Americas zone," head coach Lisa Thomaidis said in a release. "This competition is an important step toward our goal of consistent presence and pursuit of excellence on the world championship stage."
Canada, winners of two of the last three AmeriCup tournaments, opens Group A action on Saturday versus the U.S. Virgin Islands at San Juan's historic Coliseo Roberto Clemente. Canada plays Brazil on Sunday, El Salvador on Monday and Colombia on Tuesday.
The top two teams from each group advance to the semifinals. The final is June 19.
The top four teams advance to World Cup qualifying tournaments, Feb. 6-14, 2021. The top three from each qualifier earn a berth in the World Cup, in Sydney, Australia, Sept. 22-Oct. 1, 2022.
The Canadians, ranked No. 4 in the world, haven't played an international game together since they clinched a Tokyo berth in Belgium in February 2020, their international schedule erased by the COVID-19 pandemic. The team had planned to gather at its home base in Edmonton for pre-Olympic training, but because of COVID-19 quarantine protocols in Canada, the team relocated to Tampa, Fla., where it is training at the Toronto Raptors' temporary facility.
Following the AmeriCup, the women will travel back to Tampa before heading to Tokyo.
The three Canadian women in the WNBA — Natalie Achonwa, Kia Nurse, and Bridget Carleton — won't join the national team until a couple of days before the team departs for the Olympics.
Kayla Alexander, forward, Milton, Ont., Mithra Castors Braine (Belgium); Laeticia Amihere, forward, Mississauga, Ont., South Carolina (NCAA); Miranda Ayim, forward, London, Ont., Basket Landes (France); Shay Colley, guard, Brampton, Ont., Charnay (France); Aaliyah Edwards, guard, Kingston, Ont., UConn (NCAA); Nirra Fields, guard, Montreal, Antalya 07 (Turkey); Sami Hill, guard, Toronto, Nantes Reze Basket (France); Aislinn Konig, guard, Langley, B.C., Fribourg, Switzerland; Shaina Pellington, guard, Pickering, Ont., Arizona (NCAA); Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe, forward, Toronto, Lyon ASVEL (France); Merissah Russell, guard, Ottawa, Louisville (NCAA); Jamie Scott, guard, Pasco, Wash., Tarbes (France).
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 10, 2021.