LONDON, ENGLAND -- Courtnay Pilypaitis sure has a flare for the dramatic, that innate ability to step one's game up when it's needed most.
Whether that's a coachable thing, we're about to find out in due time.
For now, despite having recently accepted an exciting opportunity to be an assistant basketball coach at her alma mater, the University of Vermont, Pilypaitis's focus is squarely on the 2012 Olympic Games.
And it's spot on.
Pilypaitis, a 24-year-old guard from the Ottawa area, came out on a mission Friday at the Olympic Park basketball arena, scoring seven points in the first six minutes on way to a 14-point effort, sparking Canada to a 79-73 win over Brazil.
It was significant for two reasons: one, it's the first time Canada has ever beaten Brazil in women's basketball, according to coach Allison McNeill, and, even better, it locked up a spot in the Olympic quarter-finals, another first.
"It's unbelievable," said Pilypaitis. "I don't think anyone here would have expected us to make it to the (final) eight, and I think we're really happy to show Canada and the world what our basketball team is all about.
"It's just an unbelievable feeling," she continued. "We're just such a good team and I'm so happy we've accomplished this because we knew we could."
Canada has been competitive in each of its four games so far, also beating the host British team, while losing close games to France and Russia.
They now face Australia (3-1) Sunday to complete the preliminary round, where a loss would likely mean a quarter-final match-up with the mighty United States next Tuesday.
"We've proven we can play with Russia, we can play with France, so we know it's going to be a good, competitive game," Pilypaitis said of the Australia game. "It would be great to get a win and better positioning, but at this point we're just trying to focus on ourselves and really look and improve on what we did today."
Canada may not have even qualified for London if not for Pilypaitis's monster performance at the FIBA World Olympic qualifying tournament in Turkey, where she drained 21 points as Canada defeated Japan 71-63 to earn the final berth.
She had been playing professionally in Lithuania since graduating from Vermont in 2010, but decided the timing was right to pursue her other passion, coaching, when the opportunity presented itself at Vermont.
"I always wanted to get into coaching, so when I saw it, I really looked hard and it," she said of the job, which starts Aug. 20. "I love the school and I'm really excited to get into coaching."
That, of course, will mark the end of her professional career, but she still hopes to carry on with the national program. And she hopes the team's effort here in London will open the door for others to join her.
"We are overachieving in other people's eyes, but I think this is where we knew we could be. We just had to go out and prove it, and I think this is a great time to do it, at the Olympics when everyone is watching," she said. "Hopefully this makes all the younger kids in Canada really want to play basketball and get more involved and hopefully ride this spirit into the next Olympics."
Brian McNair is in London covering the Olympics for the Metroland Media Group