When FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup action begins Saturday in Tenerife, Spain, Indiana Fever veteran Natalie Achonwa is anticipated as the starting center for Canada. Already a two-time Olympian, she will represent her native country while participating with 15 other countries including the defending champion United States. Canada opens play against Greece at 12:30 p.m. ET, Saturday.
Achonwa is one of four Fever stars who participated in pre-World Cup activities during September, but will be the only player to participate in World Cup. Fellow Canadian Kayla Alexander sustained a slight knee injury in an exhibition against the U.S. on Sept. 8, and was replaced on the national team roster.
Kelsey Mitchell and Tiffany Mitchell both participated with the U.S. in a domestic exhibition tour and were selected for a pre-World Cup Tournament last weekend in France. Kelsey, however, withdrew from the France tournament due to the untimely passing of her grandmother, and neither Mitchell was selected for USA Basketball’s final World Cup roster.
An international veteran, Achonwa was Canada’s starting center in each of the four pre-World Cup exhibitions in which she played. She was rested in last weekend’s tournament finale against Senegal, in France. Achonwa averaged 9.5 points and 5.8 rebounds during the four-game exhibition series, including a 16-point, 11-rebound double-double against Japan. In two games against the U.S., she totaled 14 points and 11 rebounds.
In five games during the U.S. exhibition series, Tiffany Mitchell averaged 4.8 points and 12.8 minutes per game. Kelsey Mitchell, in three exhibition contests, tallied nine points in 24 total minutes. Alexander, in a pair of games against Japan and the U.S., recorded six points and nine rebounds in 18 minutes of action.