TORONTO — Phillipina Kyei has placed on a Canadian shirt for quite a few nationwide group practices the previous few years, however the match by no means felt fairly so proper because it did Tuesday night time.
Only a day after Kyei grew to become a Canadian citizen, the six-foot-eight centre from Ghana made her nationwide group debut, beginning for Canada’s under-23 girls’s group in a 65-53 victory over Belgium on the inaugural GloblJam match.
You are reading: Kyei makes her debut as Canada bounces Belgium to open GloblJam
“Undoubtedly (the jersey felt totally different),” Kyei stated with a large smile. “The one purpose stopping me from making the group was my citizenship. I simply received that yesterday, performed a sport at present. So, two (items of) excellent news.”
Aaliyah Edwards led Canada with 22 factors and 10 rebounds, whereas Shayeann Day-Wilson had 18 and Shaina Pellington chipped in with 13.
The 18-year-old Kyei had 4 rebounds and an help in her 10 minutes of motion.
Kyei — which is pronounced Chay — and her household moved from Ghana to Canada about four-and-a-half years in the past, settling in Calgary. She’d liked taking part in soccer and operating as a child, however her top caught the eye of the highschool basketball coach and so she went out for her Grade 9 group.
“I did not know something about basketball. It began off not so nice, I struggled rather a lot. The foundations had been a lot for me,” she stated.
Former Mount Royal College coach Nathan McKibbon was serving to Canada Basketball establish expertise in Alberta and noticed Kyei. She was invited to the primary of a number of nationwide group camps.
“That is the place we realized, wow, we have to put money into her,” stated Denise Dignard, Canada Basketball’s girls’s excessive efficiency director.
Dignard does not consider Canada has ever had a six-foot-eight girls’s participant. She additionally strikes with outstanding athleticism and fluidity for her measurement.
Kyei, whose teammates name her “Philly,” grew to become a Canadian citizen by way of Zoom on Monday, seated in entrance of a laptop computer within the group resort ballroom, a Canadian flag draped round her shoulders. She needed to recite the Oath of Canadian Citizenship, and sing “O Canada.” Her coaches sang alongside.
“They had been there to assist me in case I tousled,” Kyei stated with fun.
Her teammates and coaches offered her with balloons and flowers, and after residing in limbo and not using a nationwide group to play for, she stated the standard group jersey ceremonial handout was particular.
“I keep in mind crying once I could not make the group (due to her citizenship standing),” she stated. “I used to be actually unhappy. I used to look at the sport, they’d put up tales about it. I used to be like, wow, I want that was me.
“This yr, lastly, after all of the years I have been taking part in … I received my citizenship. And I made the group.”
Kyei is one yr into her school profession on the College of Oregon — she’s the tallest feminine participant in Geese historical past. She averaged 3.7 factors and three.3 rebounds in 8.6 minutes off the bench, taking pictures 51.9 per cent from the sphere and blocking 15 pictures.
Canada, in the meantime, trailed Belgium 20-13 after the primary quarter at Mattamy Athletic Centre, however took a 32-29 benefit into halftime. The Canadians led 48-44 with one quarter left.
The boys’s group tipped off their match in opposition to Brazil in Tuesday’s late sport.
The brand new FIBA-sanctioned match is meant to assist bridge the hole between worldwide U19 motion and the senior packages.
The ladies will even play the U.S. and France, whereas the lads play the U.S. and Italy. All groups play in Saturday’s semifinals. The medal video games are scheduled for Sunday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first revealed July 5, 2022.