You might call Canadian basketball star Kia Nurse “the queen of comebacks”.
The 20-year-old guard from Hamilton, Ontario was Canada’s most valuable player en route to gold at last year’s Pan American Games and FIBA Americas Women’s Championship, which qualified the team for Rio.
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But sports hernia surgery earlier this summer called her Olympic status into question. She made it to Rio, but was held to just five points in Canada’s opening match, a win over China.
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On Monday, however, Nurse showed that she’s back—and that she’s intent on leading Canada to great things in yet another big tournament.
Nurse led all scorers with 25 points in Canada’s come-from-behind 71-67 win over Serbia. The Canadians had trailed by as many as 18 points in the third quarter, but outscored Serbia 26-10 in the fourth to take the win.
“After the first half, we sat down and said ‘let’s get it done on the defensive end’, and that’s what we did,” said Nurse. “We got out in transition, made them run and executed extremely well in the second half.”
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Canada came into the tournament ranked No. 9 in the world, in a group with the USA (No. 1), Spain (No. 3), China (No. 8), Serbia (No. 14) and Senegal (No. 24).
The top four teams in the group reach the quarterfinals, making Monday’s match an especially important one for Canada to win if it hopes to pursue a podium spot.
“This was a game we really wanted to win,” said Nurse. “When we play in desperation mode, which we were playing in today, that’s when we’re really, really good.”
Up next is Senegal on Wednesday, before a showdown with the powerful American team on Friday that could very well decide which team wins Group B.