Fields Selected for Canadian National Team Tryouts

May 8, 2013

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UCLA freshman Nirra Fields has been invited to the Canadian Senior Women's National Team (SWNT) tryouts, as announced by Canada Basketball. The 29 players who have been invited to attend, will join the SWNT staff at McMaster University's David Braley Athletic Centre for the May 17-19 tryout.

Fields is one of 10 college players in the USA and five from the Pac-12 Conference that have been extended an invitation to the tryout.

Fields, who was one of 80 women from Canada playing in the NCAA during the 2012-13 season, and one of seven competing in the Pac-12, is excited about her opportunity to tryout for a spot on the National Team. She competed at the 2011 World Championships in Chile for the Canadian U-19 squad and starred for Canada the previous summer with the cadet team when, despite Canada's fifth-place finish, Fields led the tournament in scoring at 22.4 points per game.

"This is my first time trying out for the National Team," Fields said. "I have been with the national program for several years. During that time, I became familiar with how the international game is played. That, combined with my experience at UCLA, should help me make this team."

The 5-foot-9-inch guard out of Montreal, Quebec, earned honorable mention Pac-12 All-Freshman Team accolades after averaging 7.8 points and 3.5 rebounds per game for UCLA, which finished the season 26-8 and 14-4 in the Pac-12.

"I think I learned a lot this past year," Fields added. "I learned to be a better student of the game. I tried to understand what to do in all kinds of situations. Playing college basketball is a lot like what I'm going to be faced with in trying to make the National Team. It is more about your basketball IQ than about what you can do. I watched a lot of game film this year and it helped me to learn how to read defenses and know when and where to pass the ball. All of those things help you become a better player. You have to be a student of the game."

The SWNT is coming off a very successful season having played against several of the best teams around the globe. On Canada Day, the team qualified for the London Olympic Games with a thrilling 71-63 victory over Japan at the FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament. The victory paved the way for Team Canada's return to the Olympic stage following a 12-year absence.

At the London Games, the SWNT showed determination and resolve in two hard-fought victories over host Great Britain and a strong Brazilian team. Their three single-digit losses in group-play came against the strongest squads in London: France would capture the silver medal, Australia took home the bronze and Team Russia finished in fourth place.

The Canadians' run at the Games came to a close when they took-on eventual Gold-medalists Team USA in a quarter-final match-up. The show of skill and the strength of character that Team Canada displayed at the Games endeared them to basketball fans across the nation.

At the helm of the program will be a familiar face in an unfamiliar role. After 11 years as head coach of the SWNT, Surrey, B.C. native Allison McNeill retired from the program last December. Long-time SWNT assistant coach Lisa Thomaidis was named the new head coach in March after Canada Basketball's thorough search for the right individual to build upon McNeill's success. In the end, the Dundas, Ont. native proved to be the leader they needed and the voice they wanted.

The 29 tryout invitees will feature both new and familiar faces as the SWNT comes together under the guidance of new leadership. The challenge for Thomaidis and her coaching staff will be to find the right blend of veteran leadership and youth to fulfill their vision of Team Canada.

"I'm really looking forward to this experience," Fields said. "I will be playing against great players, some college and some professionals. It will all help when I return to UCLA knowing that I played against some of the best in the world. I can use this experience to add to my game and to my basketball IQ."

The first test for the 2013 edition of the team will come in the form of an exhibition series as the SWNT travels to Prague to face the Czech Republic National Team. The team's preparatory summer tour will span the globe with tournaments in Serbia, France, China and Brazil featuring some of the best teams in the world. The busy summer season will build toward the 2013 FIBA Americas Championships as the team begins its journey to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

2013 Senior Women's National Team Tryout Invitees

Name Position Hometown Team/School
Natalie Achonwa Forward Guelph, Ont. Notre Dame (NCAA)
Kayla Alexander Center Milton, Ont. Syracuse (NCAA)
Miranda Ayim Forward London, Ont. Orduspor (Turkey)
Janelle Bekkering Forward Taber, Alta. BBC Kangoeroes-B (Belgium)
Krysten Boogaard Center Regina, Sask. Training in Canada
Justine Colley Guard East Preston, N.S. St. Mary's (CIS)
Nirra Fields Guard Montreal, Que. UCLA (NCAA)
Ruth Hamblin Center Houston, B.C. Oregon State (NCAA)
Kalisha Keane Forward Ajax, Ont. Training in Canada
Miah-Marie Langlois Guard Windsor, Ont. Windsor (CIS)
Lizanne Murphy Forward Beaconsfield, Que. Aix-en-Provence (France)
Kia Nurse Guard Hamilton, Ont. St. Thomas More C.S.S.
Krista Phillips Center Saskatoon, Sask. Dandenong (Australia)
Courtnay Pilypaitis Guard Orleans, Ont. Training in USA
Katherine Plouffe Forward Edmonton, Alta. Marquette (NCAA)
Michelle Plouffe Forward Edmonton, Alta. Utah (NCAA)
Emily Potter Center Winnipeg, Man. Glenlawn Collegiate
Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe Forward Vernon, B.C. Simon Fraser (NCAA)
Karly Roser Forward Hamilton, Ont. Northwestern (NCAA)
Kendell Ross Guard Sarnia, Ont. Training in USA
Stephany Skrba Forward Thornhill, Ont. Bourges (France)
Kim Smith Guard Mission, B.C. Tarbes (France)
Alisha Tatham Guard Brampton, Ont. Basel (Switzerland)
Tamara Tatham Forward Brampton, Ont. Halle (Germany)
Shona Thorburn Guard Hamilton, Ont. Aix-en-Provence (France)
Jamie Weisner Guard Clarkston, Wash. Oregon State (NCAA)
Taryn Wicijowski Forward Regina, Sask. Utah (NCAA)
Korissa Williams Guard Amherstburg, Ont. Windsor (CIS)
Emma Wolfram Forward Kamloops, B.C. South Kamloops Senior Secondary

2013 Senior Women's National Team Schedule

Event Dates Location
Tryout by Invitation May 17-19 Hamilton, Ont.
Training Camp May 20-24 Hamilton, Ont.
Exhibitions vs. CZE May 28-29 Prague, Czech Republic
Tournament (SRB, ITA, MON) May 31 - June 2 Belgrade, Serbia
Tournament (FRA, ESP, TUR) June 7-9 Paris, France
Tournament (CHN, BRA, PUR) July 5-12 TBD, China
Tournament (BRA, PUR, TBC) August 15-18 TBD, Brazil
FIBA Americas Championships September 21-28 Xalapa, Mexico

Senior Women's National Team May Training Location
McMaster University
David Braley Athletic Centre
Hamilton, Ont.

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