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27/07/2011
Wumi AGUNBIADE

PUERTO MONTT (2011 FIBA U19 World Championship for Women) - Japan were looking to continue their barnstorming run through the FIBA U19 World Championship for Women in Chile, but standing in their way on Day Five was Wumi Agunbiade and Canada.

The Canadians burst out of the blocks in the first half - running up a 12-point lead at the main break that extended to 17 in the third period - before withstanding a withering Japanese run that saw the Asian silver medallists take the lead on a number of occasions.

Canada reclaimed the lead for good with seven minutes remaining on two free throws from Agunbiade, and secured a hard fought 68-60 victory down the stretch.
 
Whenever Canada needed a basket or a rebound, it seemed Agunbiade was there to provide. "She was fantastic, she kept us in the game," said Canada coach Rich Chambers. "She's a good player, she was the rookie of the year in her (NCAA) conference."

While Agunbiade certainly came of age today, her journey to basketball stardom started long ago when she first tried out basketball. "Ever since I could walk," she said with a laugh. "(I would play with) pretty much everyone, anyone who could dribble a basketball. I would play against anyone to try and get better."

Last year, the 188cm forward from Ontario was chosen to represent Canada at the U18 Americas championship. "I always knew that option was there, it was just a matter of me being seen. Fortunately it has happened and I am very happy," she said.

"It was a great feeling representing my country. It was nice, I was proud, my family was proud."
 
Fast forward to this year in Chile and she was not only representing her country, but driving them to an important victory with 21 points and 10 rebounds. "I really needed to step up. The past few games I've kind of been hiding, so I finally decided to make up for it," she said.

"They played very well and beat us in the third quarter, but we came out with the win so I am very proud of us."

And what about their next game against the USA and the rest of the tournament? "We are not looking to settle now," she said. "We are going for gold."



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