The UNBC Women’s basketball team had all the makings of a playoff contender heading into the season, but they needed someone to step up. To get her hands dirty, play within the system, and do the little things. Freshman guard Alina Shakirova has seized that opportunity, starting eight consecutive games for the Timberwolves.
The native of Moscow, Russia has shown flashes of offensive prowess, but it is at the defensive end of the floor where she excels. Her basketball IQ is her greatest asset, and she takes her assignments as a challenge every game.
Shakirova’s mother is a professional coach in Russia, and was important in instilling her commitment to defense. Her TWolves teammates, like fifth-year Emily Aase, certainly notice her contributions to their success.
The five-foot-seven guard’s path to the green and gold is an interesting one. She moved from Russia prior to her Grade 11 year, and played her highschool basketball at Duchess Park, alongside fellow Timberwolves Emily Holmes and Madison Landry. She redshirted last season under coach Sergey Shchepotkin, and now finds herself a major contributor to UNBC. She says her training in Russia, and her North American experiences have combined to help her on and off the court.
With eight games to go in the regular season schedule, the Timberwolves have their eyes set on returning to the playoffs. Shakirova has been nursing an ankle injury over the holiday, but expect her to be back on the court, checking the opponent’s best player, and trying to do her part – a significant one – as the TWolves look to make it two consecutive years in the Canada West playoffs.