author: konstantin kharitonov | sports editor
after going 6-1 in international tournament, Cougars were able to repeat
In September, The University of Regina women’s basketball team had sent four of their players to compete in the 3×3 FISU World University League. The Cougars had sent Michaela Kleisinger, Charlotte Kot, Kyanna Giles and Avery Pearce to Xiamen, China to participate in the 16-team tournament, which consisted of universities all over the world, each representing their country of origin.
To start off, the Cougars began play in a four-team division for the round robin section, which included them, the Universidad Católica from Chile, Universidade do Porto from Portugal, and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam from the Netherlands. Each team was scheduled to play each other once before the start of the quarterfinals.
The first stage went off in the best way possible for the Cougars, going a perfect 3-0 against their opponents. Because of their efforts, the team secured itself a match up against the hometown Xiamen University of Technology.
While Xiamen did have the home crowd in support, the hosts did not have as good of a round, going 0-3 against their competition. Their bad luck continued as the Cougars won a tight game by a score of 16-14, moving on to a quarterfinal contest with Institut Supérieur d’Eintrepreneurship et de Gestion of Senegal.
From this point, the Cougars took control, stomping the Senegalese university by a score of 20-11. Continuing to the semis, they had an easy dispatching of the University of Physical Education (ironic) from Hungary by a score of 17-12.
As such, the Cougars had made it to the finals, and faced off against the Chinese Cultural University from Taiwan. Alas, this is where the U of R would pick up its first and only loss of the tournament, as they would lose the gold medal game by a score of 21-12, taking silver.
While at the time it may have felt disheartening, the Cougars were able to capture their second silver medal, after winning it the year before.
When asked about the experience and the level of play at the tournaments, Avery Pearce was overall excited about being a part of it all, and mentioned how the team performed.
“It was some really good basketball. It was more intense that I thought it going to be. After our first game, when I came off the court I was so excited and it was so fun to play.”
It is easy to see where the excitement comes from, being at an international event. The team was able to show off their skills to the world. The pressure was intense, as any athlete in the same situation would want to be at their best.
Once on the court, the athlete with the most enjoyable experience is usually the one who gets the upper hand. When asked about which was the best game for Pearce to play in, she mentioned the semi-final bout.
“It ended up being a really great game. It could have went either way, so when we won, it was a really cool feeling. “
With a performance and emotions like that, the hype was real going into the gold-medal game. Riding on a high note, the Cougars where ready for the final match up, knowing that it was going to be a difficult one, and as Pearce notes, both teams pushed hard right from the get go.
“The final was a lot different, a different kind of basketball,” Pearce mentions about the final game against the Taiwanese university. “They were really physical, it was a different game out there. “
That physicality was the difference in the game, with the Taiwanese being able to use it to their advantage in the final game. The Cougars were able to put up a fight, but were ultimately outmatched.
Looking back at the tournament as a whole, it was still an overwhelming success for the players involved, as it provides an extremely great way of getting into game shape, even though the format is not a traditional one.
Three-on-three basketball opens up the court by a significant amount, even if the actually court size is reduced. Having less players out can lead to more single rushes and massive swings of pace happening constantly.
The format did receive praise from Pearce, as the openness and quickness was on full display from her perspective.
“The court is smaller [than a standard basketball court], but the spacing is nice. It’s a lot of driving to net. I liked the fast pace and the aggressiveness of the event.”
As such, the intensity of the games provides a much more competitive experience than any regular preseason games may give. Since there is a chance for a medal at an international event, the players are able to come into Canada West games in midseason form.
“I hope to play here like I played in China, being as aggressive and shoot as well as I did there, “ Pearce says about being in game shape coming home. “If I can do that, hopefully it will be a good season.“
However, that is still in the future, as there is still some time before the regular season really kicks off for the Cougars. From the eyes of Pearce, the tournament has been a success for everyone involved, from the program, right down to the players that went there themselves.
It was a tournament that is not going to be forgotten anytime soon, and when asked about her favourite memory, Pearce mentions the rush coming off the court after the first win of the tournament.
“After the first game when we won, I got off the court and I was so excited. It was so different but the atmosphere was so cool, especially playing together with the team.”
And because of those feelings and being able to dominate as they did, the Cougars were able to produce back-to-back silver medals. Nice way to start a season.