Orleans-raised basketball pro Courtnay Pilypaitis is shooting for the London Olympics with Canada’s senior women’s team at a qualifying tournament in Turkey next week, but getting there won’t be a slam dunk.
“Every team here is good,” said Pilypaitis from the city of Ankara where the tournament is being held. “If we don’t play the way that we know we can for 40 minutes, it’s not going to be handed to us.”
The 24-year-old shooting guard said that to get there, Canada would first have to take out teams from France or Mali. Then tackle another team where a win would land them a spot on the Olympic roster.
“It’s my first chance at the Olympics,” Pilypaitis said. “This opportunity doesn’t come around very often. There’s only one player on the team who has been, and a some of the other players have gone through a few qualifiers.”
Still, she said, she’s not going to let those thoughts ruin her game. “We’ve worked for this all our lives and what we have to do is go out and focus on the moment of the game.”
Canada’s women’s team is ranked 12th in the world right now, she said. “There’s no better feeling than being part of a team atmosphere and representing your country.”
The 2012 Olympic Qualifying Tournament for Women runs from June 25 to July 1 in Ankara, Turkey.