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Island hoopsters ready to begin play at Canada Games

Sam Strain, left, and Francis Alvarez are excited to begin play Saturday at the Canada Games women’s basketball competition in Winnipeg.
Sam Strain, left, and Francis Alvarez are excited to begin play Saturday at the Canada Games women’s basketball competition in Winnipeg.

WINNIPEG, MAN. – Francis Alvarez can’t wait for the Canada Games to begin.

After a couple years of practising, training and playing games, Alvarez and her women’s basketball teammates will step on the court Saturday for their first action in Winnipeg.

“It’s surreal because we’re finally here and we’ve been thinking of this for a while now," she said Friday afternoon. “It’s really exiting to be here and it’s nice atmosphere.”

The team arrived in Manitoba on Thursday, got settled in and had their first practice Friday morning.

“It was good to get ready, get on the court and get prepared for a game against New Brunswick tomorrow,” Alvarez said. “We’re pretty excited to play them.”

Team P.E.I.’s last game was two weeks ago in Saint John, N.B., against New Brunswick.

“We got off to a slow start and then we were just playing catch-up,” head coach Trent Whitty said, but “I like the way we matched up with them.”

He said Friday’s practice allowed them the opportunity to review the game plan for New Brunswick, get loose, get some shots up and get mentally prepared.

“Within a Games, or any sort of national tournament, it’s easy to lose focus, so I think when you’re on the court, you remember why you’re here and you can prepare for the actual competition,” Whitty said.

But first there are the opening ceremonies, which take place tonight at 9 p.m. Atlantic.

“It’s going to be pretty amazing, so we’re excited to see that,” Alvarez said.

The team won’t have much down time before stepping on the court for Saturday’s 12:45 p.m. Atlantic contest.

Whitty said Friday will be a long night for the athletes and it will be important for them to get back to the athletes village and get a good night’s rest.

Sam Strain said the team's sole focus is on its first game while Alvarez added they want to play good basketball, get as much out of the week as possible and have fun. Both 17-year-old Charlottetown natives are entering Grade 12 at Colonel Gray High School.

At A Glance

A look at Team P.E.I.’s schedule for Saturday at the Canada Games in Winnipeg. All times are Atlantic.

Men’s basketball

10:30 a.m. – P.E.I. vs. Newfoundland and Labrador.

Men’s softball

Noon – P.E.I. vs. Nova Scotia.

Women’s basketball

12:45 p.m. – P.E.I. vs. New Brunswick.

Men’s baseball

3 p.m. – P.E.I. vs. Ontario.

Men’s softball

4 p.m. – P.E.I. vs. Manitoba.

 

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