Canada walked all over Mali in a lopsided victory Monday to kick off their Olympic qualifying tournament in Turkey.
Kitchener’s Chelsea Aubry and Guelph’s Natalie Achonwa both played key roles in the 89-23 win. Aubry had five rebounds while Achonwa scored seven points.
The 11th-ranked Canadians now play the tough 8th-ranked French squad Wednesday afternoon. But the win against Mali takes the pressure off — guaranteeing the women a one-game quarter-final shot on Thursday to qualify.
A win in the quarter finals and they can book their tickets to London. A loss means they would play other quarter-final losers for a final berth.
Canada is hoping for its first appearance at the Olympics since 2000. Twelve teams are fighting for five berths in Turkey.
The Canadians, with their unflashy, defensive style of ball, have lost their past four games against France, dating back to 2010. That includes a 66-41 blowout June 16 in exhibition action, which ended a three-game winning streak that including a big win over fourth-ranked Czechs.
For the box score from Monday's game, click here.
Canada will play France Tuesday at 2:15 p.m. EST. The game will be available to watch online at FIBATV.com and also to follow on FIBA Live-Stats.