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Canadian women wrap up Olympic pre-qualifying basketball tournament with 3-0 record

Natalie Achonwa scored a team-high 16 points in leading Canada to a 77-68 win over Puerto Rico on Sunday in FIBA Women’s Olympic Pre-Qualifying Tournament action in Medellín, Colombia..

Laeticia Amihere added 11 points and 15 rebounds, with Syla Swords and Shay Colley also chipping in 11 points apiece for Canada’s basketball squad.

The fifth-ranked Canadians finished the four-team tournament 3-0, after already securing their spot in one of the four FIBA Women’s Olympic qualifying tournaments on Friday.

They are set to take place in February, with 10 Olympic berths on the line. The U.S. and France have already qualified for the 2024 Paris Games.

“I’m excited that we came here and we did what we wanted to do,” Achonwa said. “We won three games, we qualified for the Olympic qualifiers, that was our main goal. Now we get to take some things that we learned in this tournament and apply it to the next round.”

Arella Guirantes paced Puerto Rico with 22 points, six rebounds and five steals.

The 12th-ranked Puerto Ricans had also already booked their spot into an Olympic qualifier after consecutive wins over host Colombia and Venezuela.

The pre-qualifying competition consisted of the four teams that finished between third and sixth place at the FIBA Women’s AmeriCup back in July, with the top two teams — in this case Canada and Puerto Rico — advancing to an Olympic qualifier.

Canada finished third at the AmeriCup after falling to the U.S. in the semifinals, before defeating Puerto Rico in the bronze-medal game.

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Canada had a strong first half, going up six points after the opening quarter before blowing the game wide open in the second. The Canadians led by as many as 22 points and took a 43-25 edge into halftime.

Although Puerto Rico outscored Canada in the second half looking to make a comeback, the Canadians didn’t allow Puerto Rico to get any closer than seven points of them.

“[The tournament was] good in terms of results, but we have to work a lot from now until February because of the level of the rivals in February,” Canada head coach Victor Lapena said.

“I trust in my players. They know what they did good, what they did wrong and what they have to work on. I think [we will] calm down, get some rest and look forward to the future.”

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