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Darnell Nurse's sister clutch for Canada at Olympics

Oilers defenseman inspired by Kia, 20, who led women's basketball team in key moments

by Cristina Ledra @cledra / Staff Writer

NHL Tonight: Darnell Nurse

Darnell Nurse on the new-look Edmonton Oilers roster

NHL Tonight chats with Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse about his unique Olympic ties and the new-look Edmonton roster

  • 05:58 •

During a 71-67 comeback win by Canada against Serbia in women's basketball pool play at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics on Monday, the loudest outbursts may have been coming from Darnell Nurse's home in Toronto.

The Edmonton Oilers defenseman's younger sister, Kia, the starting point guard for Canada, was leading it back after being down by 18 points in what's become a habit of big performances for her in international competition. She led the game with 25 points.

"My neighbors probably think I'm crazy because I just sit around here and scream for her and jump up and down," Darnell said. 

Tweet from @drtwofive: Thought she was gonna throw down a windmill ��

Darnell wasn't able to make it to Rio with his parents, aunt Raquel and uncle, former NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb, because it's too close to the start of Oilers training camp. But even with about 5,000 miles between them, Darnell is supporting Kia the best he can through text messages and Snapchat.

Tweet from @donovanjmcnabb: Proud uncle here but @TeamCanada has a tough match up today vs @TeamUSA in women's basketball. Go #5 Nurse

"One of the biggest things I said was, it's the Olympics, but it's still the same sport and just go out there and do what you can," he said. "And I think she's shown that with the bigger spotlight and the microscope on her, she just goes out and plays."

Kia, 20, will enter her junior season for the University of Connecticut women's basketball team and has started all but three games in her first two seasons. She's also been representing Canada in international competition since 2011, though this is her first Olympics. She led Canada to tournament wins at the 2015 Pan American Games and the 2015 FIBA Americas Championship, where she was named most valuable player.

Tweet from @drtwofive: Great to see @KayNurse11 and @CanBball kick off the FIBA Americas with a big W ����

"One of the most impressive things about her is her ability to lead a team," Darnell said. "She's 20 years old and she's arguably the team's best player, leading them, like she did (against Serbia) to a huge team win. Last summer when she was 19 she showed that she's able to, regardless of her age, be a great leader."

Darnell, 21, and Kia are a year and two weeks apart in age, so people often mistake them for twins. They were competitive, but very close, growing up in a family filled with athletes. Their older sister, Tamika, played basketball at Bowling Green University; their mother, Cathy, played basketball at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario; and their father, Richard, played in the Canadian Football League. Their cousin, Sarah, plays hockey at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  

Tweet from @KayNurse11: #NationalSiblingsDay don't know if u could find a better squad then this nurse clan �� @drtwofive

Darnell is preparing for what would be his first full season with the Oilers (he played 69 games with Edmonton and nine with Bakersfield of the American Hockey League last season).

"I'm a big brother, but I still look at her as motivation and inspiration," he said. "It's definitely great to see her leading her team in big games and big moments."

Canada lost to France 68-63 in the quarterfinals Tuesday.

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