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Canadian women one win away from basketball World Cup berth

There are tests to be taken and passed and protocols to be followed, and athletes have to be shuttled around the world as the one-time qualification tournament for this year’s FIBA​​ women’s World Cup gets ready to unfold next week in Japan.

It has been a painstaking process to put together an enlarged pool of possibilities for Canada Basketball’s senior women’s team as it faces a significant challenge to maintain its place among the best in the world.

“We’re kind of running into health and safety protocols (because) these women are playing for clubs all over the world and there’s different outbreaks at different times in different countries,” Michael Bartlett, Canada Basketball’s chief executive officda,

“In Japan, it’s certainly as strict as the Olympians heading to Beijing are facing. There’s reams of tests.」

Canada Basketball settled on a group of 19 players who are set to meet in Osaka, Japan over the next three or four days to prepare for the event from Feb. 10〜13.

WNBAers Natalie Achonwa, Bridget Carleton and Kayla Alexander (Kia Nurse is still rehabbing from knee surgery) and program veterans Nirra Fields, Shay Colley, Jamie Scott and Katherine and Michelle Plouffe are among the players who will ultimately make up Lapeña。

Canada joins Japan, Belarus and Bosnia-Herzgovenia in chasing three spots for the World Cup that begins in September.

“We were allowed to negotiate some extra visas, so we would have players eligible just in case we have an outbreak on the ground,” Bartlett said.

「This is the new norm。 This is how we’re going to operate in sports from here on in, as you’re seeing in the NBA and NHL, the Olympics. You’ve got to have backups.」

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Complicating the selection process is the fact the tournament falls in the middle of the NCAA season, leaving key pieces such as Shaina Pennington and Aaliyah Edwards unable to play.

Canada joins Japan, Belarus and Bosnia-Herzgovenia in chasing three spots at the World Cup that begins in September. Qualification sounds easy but it won’t be.

“It’s going to take one win in Japan for us to qualify, so we’ve very focused on which matchups and which games present that opportunity,” Bartlett said. 「Victor has been studying the … Japan, Belarus and Bosnian systems for a number of months now.

“As he was interviewing (to replace former coach Lisa Thomaidis) he was pitching us ideas on how we should try this against them and this against them, so that was part of our interview process: qualification and what systems would put positions against those three specific teams.」

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Okano Akemi

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