FIBA Women’s World Cup 2022: How playing for Canada helped Kia Nurse rediscover her love for the game after injury layoff

Nearly a year after suffering an ACL injury in the WNBA semi-finals, Canadian point guard Kia Nurse’s long road to recovery has been both an arduous journey and one that could see her make history. with the national team.

Nurse started the tournament with a minutes restriction, however, with each game his confidence grew, both in his body and in his game, playing a record 23 minutes in the quarter-final win over Puerto Rico. .

MORE: History awaits Canada after reaching semi-finals

“My body feels good,” Nurse told reporters after the win.

“It’s been a really long road and there’s been a lot of ups and downs, good times and bad times, but I think it’s really rewarding to be out there and run and shoot three. and doing things that I sometimes think about when you’re in a recovery process that you take for granted

“The fact that 11 months ago I couldn’t walk or I couldn’t go on the court, I couldn’t tie my shoes, I couldn’t get out of bed to go to the bathroom and now you’re a little in this place where you can do incredible things.

“When you’re a pro athlete sometimes there’s a lot of pressure, there’s a lot of love, a lot of hate for the game, but right now it’s just fun. Everything about basketball in this moment is really fun and it’s the joy you have when you’re like four or five [years old] start playing the game. That’s the joy I have right now.

“So I’m really excited to be here and that makes it even more special.”

Nurse’s influence on the team is ever-present and against Puerto Rico she showed flashes of her brilliance best, leading Canada with a team-high 17 points, four rebounds and two assists on 4-of-7 shooting since then. the 3-point line and while she impressed the Sydney crowd, she impressed her teammates even more.

“I told her that when she got here, we played a few exhibition games. I said, ‘Don’t take it the wrong way, but you look a lot better than I thought,'” said Team captain Natalia Achonwa told The Sporting News.

“But I know she’s focused on letting it go and being free. If you’re focused on your knee after an injury like that, that’s all you’re going to think about and I’m really proud that she was able to just put on her jersey and focus on the match ahead of her.”

After regaining full health, the two-time Olympian played her first competitive basketball game in Sydney last week with a minutes restriction, but as the FIBA ​​Women’s Basketball World Cup continues, Nurse has steadily increased her workload and now finds herself one victory away from competing for a gold medal.

The quarter-final victory allows Canada to advance to its first FIBA ​​World Cup semi-final since 1986, claiming bronze that year, the last medal it won at a World Cup. world.

“It’s just a great achievement for Canadian basketball,” added Nurse.

“It’s been a very long time coming and getting to this point, I think it speaks a lot to those who have come before us to help us grow the game in Canada to help us continue to gradually climb the ladder as we have done in the last number of years.

“We have a lot of changes this year, new coaches, new players, playing positions they probably haven’t played in and so it’s nice to see the unpredictability we have and that’s a good way to keep working.”

Kia Nurse, Víctor Lapeña (Canada) FIBA ​​Women's Basketball World Cup

Nurse, now a national team veteran after joining the program as a 17-year-old in 2013, has been through a lot of heartbreak internationally, but with a lick of history ahead of them, she takes nothing for granted. .

“It’s just such a work in progress for us and we felt the disappointments, the quarter-finals were our downfall for a long time and to be able to kind of get over that hump,” Nurse said.

“We know how hard it is to get there, we know how hard it is to get to a world championship to play and be successful in a world championship.

“We have a very good group of young players mixed with veterans who have been there and done it before, so that makes it even more special because there’s a lot of stuff that happened behind the scenes that we we are guaranteed to come and perform and make our country proud, make our families proud and the heritage of Canadian basketball

“I think our country continues to be really, really excited about grassroots basketball and this is just the beginning of what we can accomplish.”

Canada will face the United States in the semi-finals on Friday, September 30, with kick-off scheduled for 3 a.m. ET (5 p.m. AEST).

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