Connect with us


Canadian women’s basketball team to hold pre-Olympic camp in Victoria



The Island will ride the sudden surge of popularity in women’s basketball, as the road to Paris for the Canadian team will go through Victoria.

The national team, which will include No. 6 overall WNBA draft pick Aaliyah Edwards out of the University of ­Connecticut, will hold its pre-Olympic ­training camp at the University of Victoria from June 18-30. The camp will be highlighted by an exhibition game against ­Portugal on June 26 at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre.

“We want to give the team a big lift and a big send-off to Paris for the Olympics,” said Nick Blasko, COO of We the West and Friends of Victoria Basketball, the local organizing committee.

Tickets will go on sale May 24 at 10 a.m. at Select Your Tickets. All 7,006 seats in the Memorial Centre bowl will be priced at $27 plus charges. Floor seating will be $65.

Blasko said the goal is to break the record of 4,549 fans who came out to the Memorial Centre last year to watch Canada prepare for its Paris Olympics qualifiers by playing 2020 Tokyo Olympics silver-medallist Japan in an exhibition game, won 80-60 by Japan. It was the largest crowd to watch the national women’s team play in Canada.

“We have set the pace here and want to break that record in the pre-Olympics game against Portugal next month,” said Blasko.

“There is a huge gap to close between men’s and women’s sports. But the recent ­interest and excitement [led by the incoming WNBA rookie class that includes Edwards, Caitlan Clark and Angel Reese] has put women’s basketball at a place nobody thought it could go.”

Blasko said the Canadian ­pre-Olympic camp, and game against Portugal, will cost between $350,000 to $400,000 to host. The province is ­contributing $150,000, the City of Victoria $25,000 and Destination Greater Victoria $20,000. Canada Basketball is also involved.

“These are big drivers, not only economically but also to the quality of life needed for our city, not to mention the inspiration this will provide to young female athletes,” said Blasko.

It will continue a strong run of Victoria hosting hoops. The Canadian men’s national team sold out the Memorial Centre in 2022 for a 2023 FIBA World Cup Americas regional qualifying game against Argentina. The FIBA men’s qualifying tournament for the delayed Tokyo Olympics at the ­Memorial Centre in 2021 was sold-out before having to be played in an empty building due to ­pandemic restrictions. The Toronto ­Raptors intra-squad game, held during the NBA team’s 2022 training camp in Victoria, also sold-out the Memorial ­Centre.

The Canadian women’s team, which also includes Kia Nurse and Natalie Achonwa, is ranked No. 5 in the world while Portugal, which did not qualify for Paris, is No. 46. The 2024 Paris Olympic Games begin July 26 with the women’s and men’s basketball tournaments — Canada has qualified for both — running July 27 to Aug. 11.

The Canadian women will be in Group B and open against host France on July 29 and play Australia on Aug. 1 and Nigeria on Aug. 4. The group stages will be played at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy in Lille and the playoff rounds at the Bercy Arena along the Seine in downtown Paris.

The Canadian women cagers are sometimes buried beneath the success of the national ­women’s hockey and soccer teams but have had a notable run of their own by placing fourth in the 2022 FIBA World Cup and making the quarter-finals in both the 2012 London and 2016 Rio Olympics and were ninth at the last Olympics in Tokyo.

[email protected]

Continue Reading