Connect with us


Another Canadian basketball team can qualify for the Olympics this week | CBC Sports



This is an excerpt from The Buzzer, which is CBC Sports’ daily email newsletter. Stay up to speed on what’s happening in sports by subscribing here.

Last summer, NBA MVP finalist Shai Gilgeous-Alexander helped the Canadian men’s basketball team earn its first Olympic berth since 2000. In February, the Canadian women’s team somewhat miraculously landed their fourth straight trip to the Olympics after it looked like they might be eliminated.

This week, the top-ranked Canadian women’s 3-on-3 team can join them in Paris by winning a global qualifying tournament.

If you’re not familiar, 3-on-3 — or 3×3, as it’s officially branded by the world governing body FIBA — is a compact, fast-paced version of basketball that made its Olympic debut in 2021 in Tokyo. Like the pickup games you might find at your local park, it’s played outdoors, on a half court, with one hoop. The standard three-point line serves as the two-point line in 3-on-3, while baskets made from inside the arc are worth one. Games end when a team reaches 21 points or the 10-minute time limit expires. The shot clock starts at just 12 seconds (half as long as the NBA’s), so the game is pretty frenetic all around.

Another fun thing about 3-on-3: the Olympic tournaments should be more competitive than the 5-on-5 ones. The United States is a near lock for gold in the traditional events (especially the women’s), but the basketball powerhouse is ranked just eighth in the world in women’s 3×3 and second in men’s.

Better yet, Canada has a good shot at a gold medal with the world’s No. 1-ranked team in women’s 3×3. Twin sisters Katherine and Michelle Plouffe, Paige Crozon and Kacie Bosc captured their second consecutive FIBA Women’s 3×3 Series title last year after winning six tour stops, and they just won their season opener last week in Springfield, Mass., defeating the U.S. 20-18 in the final. Katherine Plouffe was named tournament MVP after scoring seven points against an American team that included Rhyne Howard, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 WNBA draft and the league’s Rookie of the Year that season.

The Canadians have also done well at the annual FIBA 3×3 World Cup (formerly known as the world championship). They took silver in their debut in 2022, losing a close final to France — a perennial contender that has won a medal at each of the last four World Cups. Last year, Canada lost to the French by one point in the quarterfinals.

Now the Canadian 3×3 women have their sights set on reaching the Olympics for the first time. They didn’t get to play in 2021, partly due to arcane “universality” rules that prevented countries from entering certain 3-on-3 qualifying tournaments if they’d already clinched a 5-on-5 spot. Those restrictions, designed to give non-traditional basketball nations a better shot at playing in the Olympics, have been relaxed. So it’s possible that Canada could have a team in all four basketball events in Paris.

To qualify this week, the Canadian 3×3 women must win their eight-team tournament in Japan, which tips off Friday and ends Sunday. Canada’s group-stage opponents are Kenya on Friday at 2:50 a.m. ET, the Netherlands on Saturday at 2:25 a.m. ET and Australia on Saturday at 5:55 a.m. ET. The top two teams in both groups advance to the semifinals on Sunday at 4:20 and 4:45 a.m. ET. The winners of those matchups play for the Olympic spot on Sunday at 6:20 a.m. ET. 

If Canada does not win the tournament, it will have one more chance to qualify for the Olympics later this month in Hungary. The top three finishers in that 16-team event will round out the eight-team field in Paris. Host France, the United States, China and Azerbaijan have already qualified for the Games.

There’s also a men’s qualifying tournament happening in Japan this week. Canada is not involved, but it will be part of the last-chance qualifier coming up in Hungary.

You can watch this week’s women’s and men’s qualifiers in Japan live on, the CBC Sports app and CBC Gem, starting at 2 a.m. ET on Friday. Here’s the full schedule of games.

Continue Reading