Young Canadian basketball team loses Brazil at 2011 Pan-American Games

Canada was able to score first but their lead did not last long as the young Canadian team fell to a veteran Brazilian squad on Friday morning by a score of 78-53. The game was Canada’s first of the 2011 Pan-American Games, setting their record at 0-1.

“I thought we battled today, we had a great third quarter and cut it to ten but I think Brazil’s experience, age, size, and strength took over the game,” said head coach Allison McNiell.

“It was our first game after only three days of training. I’m happy with our effort, I thought defensively we played hard and we attacked offensively.”

In the opening frame, Canada used a balanced attack, getting support off the bench while Brazil elected to stick with their starting unit for the majority of the first quarter. Emma Wolfram (Kamloops, BC), the youngest member of the team at 16 years old, was the first player off the bench and was able convert her first shot attempt.

Canada shot with greater efficiency than Brazil but they were unable to match their strength in the paint, as Brazil continuously pounded the ball the inside. Team Captain Alisha Tatham (Brampton, ON) lead the way for Canada with seven points as the first quarter ended with Brazil in the lead, 24-15.

“For the first time with us playing together and being so young, I think we played well,” said Tatham.

“We really fought hard, we came out with good intensity, the second half I think we picked it up more, we calmed down and moved the ball a lot better in the third quarter. We’re pretty young in the post and I think we held our own against a WNBA player and some good post’s on the Brazilian team. I think for the next game we need to box out and cut down on turnovers and I think we’ll be okay.”

In the second quarter, Justine Colley (Halifax, NS) opened up the floor by knocking down three-pointer and sparking a run for Canada. Brazil continued to force the ball inside and collect offensive rebounds, which limited Canada’s ability to keep the score close. Tough defence by Canada lead to eight turnovers for Brazil, but Canada was unable to convert the opportunities into points. At the end of the first half, Brazil led 43-25.

Canada came out in full-force to start the second half, opening the third quarter with a 6-2 run led by Colley and Raelyn Prince (Harrow, ON). Canada kept their intensity high and were able to get a strong contribution off the bench, including six points from Isidora Purkovic (Calgary, AB). Canada took advantage of the Brazilian turnovers converting four points and attacking the offensive glass for four second chance points. At the end of the quarter, the lead had been cut to ten, with Canada trailing 57-47.

In the fourth quarter the veteran Brazilian team proved to be too much for Canada, getting out to an early 8-3 run to start the final frame and carried their momentum on route to a 78-53 victory.

Canada will now prepare for their next game against Colombia on Saturday. Tipoff is set for 2: 00 p.m. local time (3 p.m. ET).

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