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Canadian women go for hoops gold: what you need to know

07/20/2015 02:32 EDT | Updated 07/20/2016 05:59 EDT
With Canada trouncing Brazil 91-63 in the semifinal of the women's basketball event, it opened the opportunity to win a Pan Am title on home soil.

One country stands in the way for the Canadians: their neighbours to the south.

Here are three things you know to know for Monday night's game, which will be streamed live on CBCSports.ca at 8:30 p.m. ET.

Canada, U.S. undefeated in tournament

The two North American teams have won all of their contests in this year's Pan Am Games.

The U.S. women's team won gold at the 2007 Pan Am Games but dropped to bronze in 2011.

However, the squad is back in the final this year after defeating Brazil, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic in preliminaries. The U.S. barely held on to beat Cuba 65-64 in Sunday's semifinal.

The Canadians won games against Cuba, Argentina and Venezuela in the prelims before knocking Brazil down to the bronze-medal match.

Pan Am gold could be huge for Basketball Canada

If Canada wins gold tonight, it will be the first time that a national basketball team has ever won a championship at an international tournament. (Note: Canada, led by Jay Triano, did win gold at the 1983 University Games over a U.S. team led by Charles Barkley).

Even if Canada loses, the women's national team will earn its second silver in the event. They finished second at the 1999 Pan Am Games in Winnipeg.

The Americans have controlled the world of basketball for decades, winning six of the last eight Olympic titles. However, the U.S. Olympic Committee has used the Pan Ams a platform for developing its younger players.

Nonetheless, a Canadian victory would add confidence and momentum to the women, who will host the 2015 FIBA Americas, which is a qualifying event for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Two NCAA title teammates will face off 

American Breanna Stewart and Canada's Kia Nurse play together at the University of Connecticut, which won this year's NCAA women's basketball championship against Notre Dame.

But in the Pan Am final, the Canadian freshman and American junior are on opposite ends of the court.

Stewart has the edge in experience. She was named the NCAA Final Four's Most Outstanding Player for each of Connecticut's last three consecutive championships.

The forward was also on the American roster at the last Pan Am Games as the second high school player ever to be selected for the tournament.

Nurse has her own international experience to lean on. The Canadian point guard helped Canada earn a silver medal at the 2013 FIBA Americas.

She was also a starter on Canada's FIBA world roster that finished fifth last year, the highest rank in team history. Stewart and the U.S. would go on to win gold at the same tournament.

As for this year's Pan Am event, Stewart has averaged 22 points per game to Nurse's eight. However, in Sunday's game against Cuba, Stewart only scored one point more to Nurse's nine against Brazil.

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