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CAN - Murphy focused on Turkish prize
XALAPA (FIBA Americas Championship for Women/FIBA World Championship for Women) - Canadian forward Lizanne Murphy is immersed with her colleagues on the completion of one specific mission this week and that's booking a seat on the plane to the 2014 FIBA World Championship for Women.
Rather than a bonus for those who land a medal at the 2013 FIBA Americas Championship for Women in Xalapa, Mexico, the chance to compete for the third time on the global stage means a medal is very much the bonus and a ticket to Turkey the star prize.
"Yes, qualifying for Turkey is our goal this summer," confirmed Murphy.
"To get there would just prove that we are a team to be reckoned with in the world.
"We have gone to back-to-back Worlds and to the last Olympics and we believe in ourselves and would love for the rest of Canada to know of us as one of the top women's basketball nations."
Reflecting on mixed fortunes at the FIBA World Championship for Women three years ago and then also at the London 2012 Games, the desire within Murphy to ensure the team gets another shot at stepping out on the big stage is palpable.
"My memories of the Czech Republic in 2010 were that we had so many chances, but we were not able to capitalise on them," she recalled.
"For the majority of our team, it was our first very big tournament and I think our inexperience showed since we lost many of our games by less than 10 points.
"Then it was such a long road to get to London and to qualify for the first time in 12 years (to the Olympics)," continued Murphy.
"No one predicted we would get out of our preliminary group, but we believed we would.
"Although we lost so many close games, which was heart-breaking and to meet up with the USA in the Quarter-Finals was unfortunate, because we believed we could have beaten the other teams on the crossover.
"Nonetheless, both were great experiences and we want to continue seeing just how much we have improved as a team over the years.
"The future is bright for basketball in our country."
Making it to Turkey could also mean the alluring possibility of Murphy going up against France, a country which holds a special place in her heart having played her club basketball there for many years - a trend which will continue when she suits up for Angers next month.
"We play France every year in exhibition games and in so many of the big competitions, so I wouldn't be surprised if we faced them again!" she said.
"It should be an interesting season with Angers, because the French league is fun with surprise results every week.
"We are a team of fighters, which will cause some teams problems and hopefully we can have a nice season."
For now though, Murphy is focused only on success in Xalapa and believes the signs are good, helped by a degree of continuation in the coaching hot-seat, even if it is a different face at the helm.
"I think the transition to now having Lisa (Thomaidis) as head coach has been very smooth, since we are building on the things we have done in the past," she insisted.
"Lisa has made some adjustments to our offense and defense because we are more athletic and have more length than we have had previously.
"She is a great coach with an abundance of knowledge, experience and also has a great way of instilling confidence into players, while maintaining the discipline coach (Allison) McNeill was famous for."
"The team is feeling great; we are very prepared since we have played a lot of games this summer - more than we ever have in my years with the programme.
"That has allowed us to gel and for younger players to gain international experience.
"We are a confident group which is a carryover from the Olympics.
"But we know it's going to be an all-out fight in this tournament, because FIBA Americas is way more physical than the other regions and so we have to be ready for that."
Canada comfortably won their opening game of the tournament against Jamaica to get their challenge off to a perfect start.
For full and in-depth coverage of the 2013 FIBA Americas Championship for Women, go to the official website http://xalapa2013.com.
FRANK UIJLENBROEK WORLDSPORTPICS
21. August 71
FRANK UIJLENBROEK WORLDSPORTPICS