Kia Nurse returns from injury and teammate Brittany Greener

Kia Nurse returns from injury and teammate Brittany Greener

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Fighting as the most difficult year in the life of Kia nurse The most serious long-term injury in her basketball life And trying to cope with the knowledge that a friend, teammate and colleague is locked up in a small Russian prison cell.

They tested her physically and mentally. Now, ready to play the game she loves again and play for her country on the big international stage, the 26-year-old is free, relaxed and ready to go – in a matter of minutes – at FIBA World Cup It starts in Australia on Wednesday.

Nurse will hold a media briefing with Canadian reporters on Monday morning.

“I had as smooth a process as physically possible. But just, mentally, it was hard. It has been up and down and a roller-coaster. So it’s good to finally be able to get back on the court.”

Nurse tore the ACL in her right knee during a WNBA playoff game against the Phoenix Mercury last October and will miss the entire 2022 season. She had hoped to play a bit more at the end of the season, but that didn’t work out and she will now return to the court – suspensions to be determined – to open Canada’s 12-nation tournament against Serbia on Wednesday (11:00 Sportsnet).

Teammates said she looked good during training camp and two exhibition performances in Australia last week. They know how much she is worth.

“I tell Kia every day that she needs to be herself, especially when she’s going through a process like tearing her ACL and coming back,” Canadian teammate Natalie Achonwa said. “I was there I’ve done that and I understand the mental and emotional toll it takes. But she does this every day, and it’s like we say: celebrate the small victories.

Being forced to sit down for months for the first time in her career was not easy. Nurse spent most of her early recovery in Toronto and only joined the Mercury as a supporting teammate. Just finished season. She credits her boyfriend for support, as well as her uncle, former NFL star Donovan McNabb, who suffered an ACL tear during his career.

She thinks it made her stronger and allowed her to fine-tune some aspects of her game.

“I’ve played two games in 11 months and[take time]to sort it out and see what works for me and what doesn’t. It’s something I think I’m still going through now,” she said. “I never forgot how to pass, dribble or shoot. It’s just about being able to do that at a high clip and at a high speed.

Team Canada's Kia Nurse (left) is pushed by Spain's Astu Ndor at the Tokyo Olympics last August.

“And that’s a lot of what I’m going to be doing throughout this process, this time and throughout the rest of the restoration process.”

Staying away from the Mercury for most of the WNBA season has set Nurse apart. The most emotional sports stories of the year. Her voice began to crack and the emotion was palpable when Nurse was asked about her Mercury teammate, Brittany Griner. In a Russian prison after being charged with minor drug charges.

“It was very difficult to play the whole season without her,” Nurse said. “So[we]continue to keep her in our prayers, to keep her family in our prayers, to know that she is loved and not forgotten. and urging as much as we can to all who have the power to make a decision to help bring her home, because she is unjustly imprisoned there in all respects.

But all that emotion and the long, hard rehab sessions and months away from the game will have to fade away as Nurse plays her first real game in over a year.

“We know what we’re going to get from her,” said teammate Bridget Carlton. “She takes the right shots, guards the ball, makes good decisions and plays defense and goes as hard as she can.

“When she was injured, she may not have been properly . We don’t expect her to be – she hasn’t played in a year. But her presence is certainly felt on the court and we need it.

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