Ready for Rio: Canada’s basketball team wants medal ‘no matter what’

Nirra Fields, left, and Kia Nurse embrace during a press conference on Friday, July 22, 2016 announcing the 12 atheletes nominated to represent Team Canada in women's basketball for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Aaron Vincent Elkaim

The Canadian women’s basketball team has been building to this moment. At the 2012 Olympics, they finished in the top eight. At the 2014 World Championship, they finished fifth. At the 2015 Pan Am Games, they won gold. Natalie Achonwa and Kia Nurse are the keys to Canada’s success in Rio. They could be called our version of Kobe and Shaq, so good they’d be in the conversation to make the American team. They’re also a lot of fun.

Natalie Achonwa, Cuba's Clenia

Age: 23
Height: 6-3
Weight: 190 lb.
Hometown: Guelph, Ont.

Achonwa is going to her second Olympics after joining the national team program in 2009. The ninth-overall pick by the Indiana Fever in the 2014 WNBA draft is looking to earn her fourth medal and third gold competing for Canada.

What is your Uber strategy?
I’m normally an Uber X girl but it depends on the size of the people I travel with. It often turns into an Uber XL as a basketball player.

Do you expect to see Pokemon Go being played in the Olympic village?
I hope not. I’m so against Pokemon Go. Some of my teammates are in the gym after practice looking for Pokemon so I’m hoping that Pokemon Go does not make it to the Olympics. [Laughs.]

Twitter or Facebook?
Twitter. I don’t have Facebook.

Snapchat or Instagram?
Umm… Instagram.

Are you planning on seeing the new Ghostbusters movie?
Yes. I’ve been so bad with movies. I haven’t anything in a long time but yes, I definitely will see it.

Melania Trump plagiarizing Michelle Obama. Is that a common foul, technical foul or flagrant foul?
That’s a you-got-kicked-out-of-the-gym foul.

Which American electoral candidate has a better chance of playing one-on-one against our Prime Minister?
Trump. He’s going to play dirty. I still think Trudeau would win.

Good Miley Cyrus or Bad Miley Cyrus?
Bad Miley Cyrus.

Rapping Drake or Singing Drake?
Hmmm… Rapping Drake.

High-tops or low-tops on the court?
Low tops.

Off the court?
Low tops.

Team Taylor Swift or Team Kim and Kanye?
Oh, definitely Kanye and Kim.

What are you looking forward to most about the Olympic games?
Just being in the village. This is the first summer in awhile that I haven’t done anything with Canada Basketball so far so I was almost tearing up seeing everyone. I’m just looking forward to wearing Canada on my chest.

What’s your definition of success in Rio?
We want a medal. Representing with the passion and the pride that we always do, but no matter what we want a medal. Last time we were the last team to get into the Olympics. So this time with the prep and the work that our staff has put in, and our team has put in, we’re going for a medal. We are going to compete with the best in the world.

Canada US Basketball

Age: 20
Height: 5-10
Weight: 150 lb.
Hometown: Hamilton

The 20-year-old Nurse has been a member of the senior national team since she was in high school. She comes from an athletic family—her father, Richard, played in the CFL, her mother, Cathy, played basketball in the CIS, her sister, Tamika, played basketball in the NCAA, her brother, Darnell, is a defenceman for the Edmonton Oilers, her cousin Sarah plays hockey at Wisconsin and for the Canadian national team and her uncle is former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb. Nurse was tournament MVP at the 2015 FIBA Americas tournament where Canada won gold.

What is your Uber strategy?
I will Uber anything that’s fastest. And if it is not double rate. I hate double rate. It kills me.

Do you expect to see Pokemon Go being played at the Olympic village?
Absolutely! I’ll be playing. I’m a level 12 trainer already. And I’m trying to get to 20 by the time the Olympics are done.
I don’t know what that means.
I can teach you. You should try it. It’s really addictive.
I don’t want to walk into things.
Don’t fall off of anything. You’ll be alright.

Facebook or Twitter?

Instagram or Snapchat?
See, I have more followers on Instagram but I love Snapchat because I have to filter myself on Snapchat. The filters are cute; they make you look good.

Don’t they have filters on Instagram?
But not like the dog filter and those ones.

Are you planning on seeing the new Ghostbusters movie?
Yes, I’m excited for it. I love Melissa McCarthy.

What is your favourite Melissa McCarthy movie?

Melania Trump plagiarizing Michelle Obama. Is that a common foul, technical foul or flagrant foul?
Flagrant one or two?
Two! Like you thought you could get away with that? Does that make sense? Come on!

Which American electoral candidate has a better chance of playing one-on-one against our Prime Minister?
Hillary’s smarter so Hillary.

Team Taylor Swift or team Kim and Kanye?
Definitely Kim and Kanye. [Laughs.]
You seem offended I even asked.
Yes, I am.

Good Miley Cyrus or Bad Miley Cyrus?
I love Good Miley. I listen to her CD still on the way home on car rides and stuff. Like Hannah Montana 2: Meet Miley Cyrus; I listened to that whole album yesterday.

High-tops or low-tops on the court?
Low-tops, but high-tops protect your ankles.
Sounds like something Geno Auriemma told you to say.
It sure is.

Off the court?

Steph Curry or LeBron James?

What are you most looking forward to about the Olympic games?
I can’t wait to be in the village with all those athletes. When you think about it, it’s the top athletes in the world everywhere and that’s an experience I’ll never forget.

What’s your definition of success in Rio?
Obviously we have the goal to go in there and get a medal. I think need to play really hard together and peak at the right time. So I see our success as playing our best basketball over the last four years at the Olympics.

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