It’s going to take the long way for Canada to qualify for the women’s basketball tournament at the 2012 London Olympics.
Despite a furious fourth-quarter comeback, Canada surrendered a three-pointer with less than 12 seconds to go that tied the game and then gave up a basket at the buzzer in a 61-59 loss to Argentina in the semifinals of the FIBA Americas Olympic qualification tournament in Nieva, Colombia on Friday night.
It will be a bitter pill for Canada to swallow and means they will not play Saturday for the lone automatic berth in the London Games.
They have, however, already qualified for a final qualification tournament next summer to determine the last five of 16 Olympic teams.
It will be of little consolation today, however, since Canada stormed back from a late deficit to take a three-point lead in the dying seconds.
But after an Argentina three-pointer tied the game and gave Canada the ball with about 11 seconds left, a series of non-calls led to a turnover that Argentina converted into the game-winning basket at the buzzer.
“It’s unfortunate at the end of the game when they were trying to foul, the referees didn’t realize that they had two fouls to give and they were trying to foul,” said head coach Allison McNeill. “That was disappointing.”
Not as disappointing as not having a shot to play for the gold medal and an automatic berth in the 2012 Olympics, which would represent the first time the Canadian women have been to a Games since 2000.
But the secondary goal of assuring themselves a chance next summer has been realized since the second-to-fourth place teams advance to a final qualification event next year.
Canada missed nine of 16 free throws in the game and shot just 29 per cent from three-point range in losing to the 5-0 Argentines.
Chelsea Aubry of Kitchener led Canada with 14 points and Lizanne Murphy of Beaconsfield, Que., had 11.
“Unfortunately, the ball didn’t fall our way,” said Aubry. “On that last possession, we didn’t get the call we wanted, it was a tough break.”