Carleton and Team Canada could clinch Olympic berth with win

Bridget Carleton (third from left) stands with Canada's Women's Basketball ahead of a Tokyo Olympic qualifying game in Belgium. February 6, 2020. (Photo from @CanBball via Twitter)

Chatham’s Bridget Carleton and the Canadian Women’s National basketball team are just one win away from booking their ticket to the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.

After opening with a win against the host country, Belgium, on Thursday, the Canadians are now set to take on Sweden on Saturday. A victory would guarantee Canada a top-three finish at the tournament and a spot at the Tokyo 2020 Women’s Olympic Basketball Tournament, getting Carleton one step closer to realizing a life-long dream of representing her country on the world’s biggest stage.

Carleton played a significant role in Canada’s opening game, pulling down a team-leading six rebounds including a key grab on defense when Canada was up by just two points with 29 seconds left in the fourth quarter.

She also racked up the second-most minutes of any player on the team in Thursday’s win against Belgium, spending almost 27 minutes on the court (second only to Kia Nurse, who led the team with 35:15 minutes) and pulling in a team-high three steals.

The ending of Thursday’s game may not have gone exactly according to plan, but Team Canada head coach Lisa Thomaidis was still happy with how her team responded down the stretch.

“Those are great games to be a part of,” Thomaidis said in a release from Canada Basketball following Thursday’s win. “We’ve played in a few of these now and the more we’re in them, the better we respond to them. We had a lot of players who played big moments and tonight shows how we can handle them, ride those waves and handle the momentum shifts and still come out on top. It was fun.”

Canada’s game against Sweden on Saturday will once again be nationally televised. Tip-off is set for 2:35 p.m. Eastern Time and will be streamed live on DAZN and the CBC Gem app.

CBC will also show Saturday’s game on a tape delay on the main network following Hockey Night in Canada.