Huskies coach leads national team to Olympic berth

University of Saskatchewan Huskies women’s basketball coach Lisa Thomaidis guided the Canadian senior women’s national team to a berth in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil with an 82-66 win over Cuba in the FIBA Americas final on Sunday night in Edmonton.

Canada went a perfect 4-0 in round-robin play, outscoring opponents 390-172. On Saturday night, Canada knocked off Brazil 83-66 in the semifinal.

"We certainly kept improving over the course of the summer," Thomaidis said the day after clinching an Olympic berth. "We played our best basketball at this tournament. I thought we were pretty good at Pan Ams, but we just carried that through and continued to improve in this tournament. "

For Thomaidis and the senior women's national team, it's the second gold medal of the summer. The squad won its first ever Pan American Games title at home in Toronto in July with a win over the United States.

The last time the Canadian squad won the FIBA Americas tournament was in 1995, when it was also hosted on home soil in Hamilton, Ont.

"Home court means a lot too, that crowd and that atmosphere," added Thomaidis. "You can't discount how important that is and what an advantage that was for us."

The 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro will be Canada's sixth appearance. The national women's basketball team last participated in the London 2012 Olympics.

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