Canada was not going to leave Italy empty-handed. That was the mindset of the members of the country’s junior national women’s basketball team.
Competing at the FIBA World Cup, the U19 basketball squad entered the championships ranked fourth in the world but exited with the bronze medals draped around their necks.
“Our goal was to medal,” said Langley’s Aislinn Konig, the lone B.C. representative on the 12-player roster.
“We weren’t going to accept anything less and we acted and prepared with that always at the forefront of our minds.”
The medal was the highest finish ever for Canada at this age group.
“It really is surreal but we had been going through this process with medalling as a very attainable goal so it’s just real special that all our hard work and preparation paid off,” Konig said.
The championships were held July 22 to 30 in Udine and Cividalle Del Friull, Italy.
Canada finished atop the Group C standings with a 3-0 mark, beating Korea 91-45, topping France 54-45 and edging Latvia 74-70.
In the round of 16, the Canadian side beat Mexico 64-43 and then rallied to top China 68-65 in the quarter-finals.
Canada would fall 65-41 to Russia in the semifinals — the Russians would win the gold, upsetting the six-time reigning champion United States 86-82 — but bounced back to beat Japan 67-60 in the bronze medal game.
Konig — who graduated from Brookswood Secondary in 2016 and left the B.C. high school ranks as the first player to win three consecutive most valuable player awards — finished the tournament averaging 10.7 points per game while playing just over 30 minutes each contest. Her scoring average was second on the Canadian roster.
That included a 32-point outburst against Latvia with Konig connecting on 10 three-point shots in the contest. The 32 points were the second most single-game output by any player at the tournament and the 10 three-pointers were the most in any single game of the competition’s history.
Upon returning from Italy, Konig, 19, left for Raleigh, NC, in preparation for the upcoming season with the North Carolina State Wolfpack.
Konig is hoping to use what she learned in her time with Canada for her sophomore season with the NCAA Division 1 program.
“I learned how vital it is to really commit to the team goal and your team in tough situations,” she said.
“The last month was a grind and the connection you build with your teammates and the staff is incredibly important to being able to weather the storm.
“Sometimes shots fall and sometimes they don’t, but you have to give everything you got for the people around you.”
In addition to playing high school basketball with Brookswood Secondary, Konig previously played on the summer club basketball circuit with BC Elite.
And the BC Elite Development Organization Society is hosting a golf tournament on Aug. 11 at the Swan-e-Set Golf and Country Club in Pitt Meadows.
Money raised from the event will go towards paying for gym rentals, buying equipment and helping pay for players in need.
Cost is $125 per golfer and the deadline to register is Aug. 10.
Check-in is at noon with a 1 p.m. shotgun start. Dinner begins at 6:30 p.m. To register, visit www.bcelitebasketball.com/golf.