Andy Watson

VICTORIA – Kick off the new year with the University of Victoria Vikes women’s basketball team.

The Vikes will host the U-18 Japanese national team in an exhibition game on Sunday Jan. 1 at 2 p.m. at McKinnon Gymnasium. Admission is by donation.

“Based on my experience at the world championships, Japan’s team will be incredibly skilled and fit, and it will be an unbelievable challenge for our girls,” said Rich Chambers, Vikes women’s basketball head coach. “Just the speed of the game will be a complete challenge. Also the Japanese play a completely different style; it will force us into adversity right away, because we’ll be trying to guard stuff we’d never see in CIS play. It’s good for us to be adaptable and to guard their quickness and their tremendous shooting and passing ability.”

“It’s simply a great opportunity for the girls to play in an international game, see the high quality of training and commitment of a group of athletes from another country,” added Chambers, the Canadian junior women’s national team head coach. “The team we will see will be very, very good.”

The exhibition game with Japan will cap off a four-game exhibition period for UVic which will be in Calgary Dec. 28, 29 and 30 to face RMC, Calgary and Toronto.

“It’s critical for us because we have two girls coming off injury, and they have to get back into the flow of things,” said Chambers. “We’ve had three weeks of practices with reduced numbers, some sessions we’ve only had seven players in practice. So to play in some meaningful, five-on-five play before the Canada West season resumes is important.”

“And Calgary and Toronto are decent teams, they will provide good competition, and Japan will be outstanding,” said Chambers. “It’s great preparation for us going into play Alberta and Saskatchewan.”

UVic returns to Canada West action on Jan. 6 against the Saskatchewan Huskies at 6 p.m. at McKinnon Gymnasium.