Keough, McKenzie ready for hoops journey to Asia
Alison Keough and her Capers women’s coach Fabian McKenzie are part of national women’s development team.
Wearing the maple leaf has been a goal for Alison Keough since she was a teenager, and the opportunity has finally arrived.
The Marion Bridge forward will play for Canada’s women’s development team that will compete at the U24 Four Nations Tournament in Tokyo, Japan, and the 29th Summer Universiade in Taipei City, Taiwan, this month.
Keough was officially named to the team on Friday after attending tryouts and a training camp in Toronto that began on July 29.
“I was fighting back tears when I found out I was on the team. I was so overwhelmed,” said the 22-year-old, who will enter her fifth and final season with the Cape Breton Capers women’s basketball team in the fall.
“It was probably the greatest feeling I’ve had in my whole basketball career.”
Last season, the 6-1 Keough averaged 19.3 points per game and led the conference in rebounding with 9.9 rebounds per game. She was named the Atlantic University Sport most valuable player and a U Sports first team all-Canadian, while leading the Capers to a 13-7 record and an AUS championship.
This isn’t the first time she’s had a shot at making a national team. She earned tryouts for both the national cadet U16 and U17 teams, and was named an alternate.
But this time, it’s for real. “Finally, getting to put on Alison Keough of Marion Bridge and her Cape Breton Capers women’s basketball coach Fabian McKenzie of Glace Bay will travel to Japan and Taiwan to compete with the Canada’s national women’s development team this month.
that jersey was an amazing feeling,” she said.
“Since I got exposed to it when I was that young, it’s been a dream ever since then. Finally getting to do it, it’s a dream come true.”
Keough will have some familiarity on the bench. Capers head coach Fabian McKenzie will be bench boss for the national development team. This will be his sixth summer at the helm of the team, and his 10th season as part of the national program.
“Not only is there a familiarity, he’s one of the best in the country,” said Keough.
McKenzie gave credit to Keough’s
hard work in making the roster.
“What an amazing role model it is for young players in Cape Breton to say I can do this from Cape Breton,” he said. “The play is faster and stronger and Alison has noticed that. To have her go and travel to the two countries we’re going to, see the world and play these teams through the game of basketball is an amazing opportunity.
“It’ll be an experience she’ll remember forever.”
Canada opens play at the U24 Four Nations Tournament in Tokyo on Aug. 12 against the hosts from Japan. They’ll play the United States on Aug. 13
and Australia on Aug. 15. The Universiade runs from Aug. 20-29 in Taiwan, with Canada facing Portugal on Aug. 21, Korea on Aug. 22 and Japan on Aug. 23.
This will be McKenzie’s fourth Universiade, and his third as head coach. The Canadian squad took silver at the 2015 event in Gwangju, Korea, its best finish.
“As we told our girls here, anything’s possible,” he said. “We’re going over to try and get to the podium and go from there.”