Kia Nurse
(Photo by Michael J. LeBrecht II/NBAE via Getty Images)

Geoff Magliocchetti

Fresh off a successful rookie season, Kia Nurse is the third New York Liberty representative set to partake in this month’s FIBA World Cup.

With the Headquarters of the United Nations less than two miles away from Madison Square Garden, it’s only appropriate to see the New York Liberty engage in some international affairs this September.

Guard Kia Nurse, fresh off a successful rookie campaign, will be joining her comrades up north, as she was recently named to Team Canada’s 15-member roster, the first step of training camp to prepare for the 2018 Women’s Basketball World Cup. The Liberty-issued team statement announcing Nurse’s invitation also revealed that Nurse will spend the WNBA offseason playing for the University of Canberra Capitals of Australia’s Women’s National Basketball League, the top women’s league in the country.

“There’s been a great shift in that in terms of the last five years that I’ve been here,” Nurse said of the increasing popularity of women’s basketball in the team statement. “It’s helped us immensely to get to where we are.”

Nurse is one of three WNBA players on the Canadian squad, alongside Natalie Achonwa and Kayla Alexander of the Indiana Fever. The Hamilton, Ontario native averaged 9.1 points and 2.4 rebounds over 34 games, including seven starts, in her rookie year. Chosen ninth overall in the 2018 WNBA Draft out of Connecticut, Nurse has been in the Canadian National Team system since she was 15-years-old.

Her crowning achievement with the team was likely the 2015 Pan American Games, held in Toronto. It was the team’s first Pan American title, as well as their first championship of any kind since the 1995 FIBA Women’s AmeriCup. Finishing in the top ten in scoring, free throws, three-pointers, and assists, Nurse was named the tournament MVP, clinching the historic victory with 33 points in the gold medal game, an 81-73 victory over the United States.

An experienced veteran at just 22 years old, Nurse is now one of the biggest leaders on a Canada filled with expectations.

“Kia is an older vet, but she’s also the same age. Just taking from her the energy she plays with, the physicality,” said Michigan State redshirt junior and fellow team Canada guard Shay Colley in the statement. “Just taking the wisdom: when to make the right read, how to read your defender.”

Canada enters the World Cup with heightened expectations, rating fifth in the current FIBA World Ranking, their highest in team history. The team qualified for the World Cup with their second consecutive AmeriCup championship, with Nurse again leading the team in scoring in the championship game with 12 points, part of the 67-65 win over Argentina.

Nurse is the third Liberty representative headed to the World Cup, joining Tina Charles (United States) and Rebecca Allen (Australia).

The team is coached by University of Saskatchewan head coach Lisa Thomaidis, who has been at the helm since 2013.

“This is an exciting time for our women’s national team. We are looking forward to starting training camp with the deepest talent pool we’ve had in recent memory,” Thomaidis said in the New York statement. “With many of our athletes playing in the best leagues in the world, we are excited to get everyone together to prepare to represent Canada with pride and passion at the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup.”

Prior to the World Cup festivities, set to be held in Tenerife, Spain, Team Canada will face Japan (Sept. 7) and the United States (Sept. 8) for a pair of exhibitions at Webster Bank Arena. More exhibitions will go down on September 15-17 in Antibes, France, joining the Americans, and French.

Canada will partake in Group A of the World Cup, taking on France, South Korea, and Greece, beginning play against the lattermost on Sept. 22.

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