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Ayim excited by Turkish return with Canada
EDMONTON (FIBA World Championship for Women) - Having played several seasons of club basketball in Turkey as well as booking an Olympic spot when on Turkish soil, Miranda Ayim could barely think of a better place to represent Canada at her first FIBA World Championship for Women.
The forward is relishing the chance to return to the Turkish capital, scene of one of her best memories just two years ago, when Ayim and Co joyously claimed their spot at the 2012 London Games via the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament for Women.
"I'm excited to participate in the FIBA World Championship this year," smiled Ayim.
"It marks the halfway point to the Rio Olympics and will be a great measuring stick to see where our new team is at.
"We're excited about coming and we want to try and turn some heads.
"Of course we also know Ankara Arena well and have achieved great things there in the past.
"I'm sure the return to the arena will bring back good memories, but we aim to add to our achievements and bring back some even bigger victories this time!"
Ayim took her first professional footsteps in Turkey after graduating from Pepperdine, playing her rookie season with Alanya Belediye and then moving on to Istanbul Universitesi and Orduspor.
"I thoroughly enjoyed playing in Turkey and I have many fond memories," she mused.
"Most of the memories are of the people I met and befriended, as well as it being a beautiful country in terms of the landscape, the food and the architecture."
Last year, Ayim moved to France and played with national team colleague Shona Thorburn in Toulouse, where she will remain for the 2014-15 campaign. Rather neatly, as well as being familiar with Turkish basketball and playing against the hosts, the 26-year-old will also get to go up against France in Group B.
"I enjoy playing with Shona since she's an intelligent player and a great person," she said.
"It was enjoyable to have a friend in Toulouse for our time outside of practice and games as well.
"We are both familiar with many of the French players after playing against them this past season in the LFB (French Women's League).
"I believe this will be an advantage, although of course, they are familiar with a few of our players as well."
Having been part of the well-established team which fought so hard in London under veteran and long serving play-caller Allison McNeill, Ayim is now enjoying playing for her predecessor Lisa Thomaidis, who took over the reins last year.
"Allison McNeill is a great coach and a great person," stated Ayim.
"Lisa Thomaidis was an assistant coach under Allison which meant everyone was already familiar with her and that made the transition to a new coaching staff much easier.
"Allison left behind a strong foundation of fundamentals and a well-structured offence.
"From there, Lisa has taken our team in a new, exciting direction focusing on more athleticism, speed and variety in our offence."
After an extensive run of friendly games, Ayim and her team-mates are back in Edmonton and ready to put the finishing touches to their pre-Turkey preparations - with 14 players competing at the final training camp.
With little time left to make an major adjustments, Ayim is satisfied with how things have been going and is confident that her team will head to Ankara in the best possible shape and in a super frame of mind.
"We have worked hard up to this point, between our own training camps and by playing in various friendly tournaments, so I feel that we are peaking at just the right time.
"Our team prides itself on playing with passion and playing all out.
"We intend on giving everything we have on the court in Turkey and that usually results in exciting games."