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CAN - Big thumbs up in Europe for Thomaidis and Co
New Canada coach Lisa Thomaidis likes what she is seeing in her squad as it sets out to build on the experience of reaching the Quarter-Finals of the London Games.
The Canadians, who have been playing in friendly games against other national teams in Europe, slipped up against Montenegro but defeated hosts Serbia and edged Italy to finish second in the Belgrade Trophy Tournament over the weekend.
Thomaidis has presided over four wins and just one defeat in Europe as Canada prepare for the FIBA Americas Championship for Women, a qualifying event for the 2014 FIBA World Championship for Women in Turkey.
Canada finished the weekend in Belgrade with a 52-50 win over the Azzurre.
The performance left the coach with a big smile on her face because the players had tightened up on defense after their game against Montenegro.
"This was a tremendous team win," the coach said. "The improvement on the defensive end that our team made over a 24-hour span is remarkable. I am so proud for our girls. We played five games in six days with a shortened bench. This game was a test of our fitness and resolve and we came out on top."
Against Italy, Kia Nurse - who led Canada to a third-place finish at last summer's FIBA U17 World Championship for Women - drilled five of her nine shots from the floor and finished with 14 points.
Olympian Courtnay Pilypaitis connected on three of five shots from the arc and finished with 11 points, and Krysten Boogaard also reached double digits with 10 points.
Canada had to go through the 2012 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament for Women (OQTW) just to reach the London Games, and they did well once in Britain.
The team rose two spots in the latest FIBA Ranking Women to No. 9.
Thomaidis and Co. face another stern test of their credentials beginning 7 June.
They will take on hosts France, then Spain and Turkey in a four-nation tournament.
All three of their opponents are warming up for the EuroBasket Women.
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