By Shane Jones
THE CANADIAN PRESS
EDMONTON _ Canada continues to roll at the FIBA Americas women’s basketball championship, but coach Lisa Thomaidis still sees room for improvement.
Kia Nurse, Natalie Achonwa and Tamara Tatham each had 14 points as the Canadians routed Chile 93-36 victory on Monday.
Canada, which is fresh off a gold medal win over the United States at the recent Pan American Games in Toronto, improved to 2-0 in the tournament. It opened the event with a 94-57 win over Puerto Rico on Sunday.
“It is about trying to get better each game,” said Thomaidis. “We did a better job of that in the second half. We were careless with the ball in the first half.”
Achonwa agreed her team needs to work on it full-game focus.
“There are still some things that we need to take care of,” said Achonwa. “Especially in the first half, we had a lot of turnovers and were pretty loose with the ball. It is about focus. When you are up by 30 it can be easy to just want to have fun, but we have to use games like this to focus on the details and get better.”
The Canadians got off to a 15-4 lead through the first five minutes and were up 27-10 at the end of the first quarter.
Canada seemed to get a bit complacent for the remainder of the first half, holding on for a 44-20 lead at the midmark. Achonwa led the way with eight first-half points.
The Canadians picked up the pace again in the third to lead 66-26 heading into the final quarter.
Thomaidis said her team will need to continue to play as unselfishly as they have to this point if they want to have success as the games get harder.
“The players have really bought into that,” she said. “They are not focused on who scores but the fact that we score. It is all about finding the open player. People who can create open shots for others are giving the ball up and that is tremendous to see. That is going to be key for us continuing to be successful.”
Catalina Abuyeres led the way for Chile with 11 points after captain Ziomara Morrison left the game early with an injury.
Canada entered the 10-team tournament ranked third in the Americas and 10th in the world. It is seeking a berth in the 2016 Rio Olympics with either an outright win at the Americas tournament, or with a second place finish to Brazil, which was finally granted its host status at the Olympics after solving a dispute over money owed to FIBA at a meeting in Tokyo on Sunday.
The Canadians will now face the Dominican Republic on Tuesday before having a day off Wednesday. They’ll play Cuba in their final round robin matchup on Thursday.
Notes _ The Canadian women have put an emphasis on utilizing their entire bench for the tournament. In their first game against Puerto Rico, every Canadian player scored at least five points and the most any member of the team had was 11? Canada finished second to Cuba at the FIBA Americas tournament in Mexico in 2013. The only time they have won the event is also the other time they hosted, when the event was held in Hamilton in 1995.