The Canadian Women’s Basketball team will be looking to qualify for their third straight Summer Olympics. Their Olympic Qualifying Group will play in Ostend, Belgium at Sea’Arena from February 6th to February 9th.
Canada’s Women’s Team Aiming at Record Streak of Three Straight Olympics
The women’s national team will face Japan, Sweden, and Belgium in the tournament. They will be three games in the group stage. Sweden, Belgium, and Canada will be aiming to qualify for the Olympics. Japan has already qualified as hosts of the 2020 Summer Olympics.
Canada will have to finish in the top two or three of their group in order to qualify for the Olympics.
If for example, Japan finishes first or second Canada will qualify to the Summer Olympics as the number 3rd seed.
There is also a chance that Japan might finish last in the group stage, meaning Canada will have to finish as one of the top two seeds in their group stage.
The Canadian Women’s Basketball Team is ranked the highest of the four teams. They have achieved their highest ever rank at 4th place and has the highest ranking of the four teams.
Belgium is ranked #9, closely followed by Japan at #10. Sweden has by far the lowest rank in the group as they are ranked #22.
Team Canada – Olympic Qualifying Group
Canada, as mentioned before, has the highest ranking in its national team’s history.
The most notable Canadian is point guard Kia Nurse from Hamilton, Ontario. She just made it to her first-ever WNBA All-Star Game this year for the New York Liberty.
Alexander currently plays for the Indiana Fever and Raincock-Ekunwe for the New York Liberty. Carlton from Chatham, Ontario started her first year in the WNBA this year with the Minnesota Lynx.
Canada also has notable players playing in other top tier leagues like Kim Gaucher and Miranda Ayim in France, and Miah-Marie Langlois in Russia. Their strongest opponent will be Belgium who is ranked #9 and are hosts to the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in February.
Team Belgium – Olympic Qualifying Group
Belgium has two WNBA players, who are center Emma Meesseman and shooting guard Kim Mestdagh. Both these players won the championship with the Washington Mystics this year. Meesseman won the 2019 WNBA Finals MVP. She also made it to the WNBA All-Star Game in 2015.
There are also other big-time players playing in Europe like Ann Wauters from Russia and Julie Vanloo from France.
Belgium finished fifth in the 2019 EuroBasket Women Championship. Their best performance was third in the 2017 EuroBasket Women Championship.
The other main competitor, Japan ranked 10th looks to be the most dangerous of the three teams on paper. They defeated Belgium in the last FIBA Women’s World Cup and have won the last three FIBA Asian Championships in 2015, 2017, and 2019.
Team Japan – Olympic Qualifying Group
Japan is the only one of the four teams to not have a WNBA player. However, Japan still has some of the best players in the world with a strong professional basketball league back home.
According to Kaz Nagatsuka, a staff writer for The Japan Times, this team can hurt another team fairly quickly. This team is known for their ability to move at a more up-tempo pace and can shoot 3 pointers.
Center Ramu Tokashiki is Japan’s star player. She played for the Seattle Storm but has not played for Japan since the 2016 Olympics. A spot for Japan’s star player is not guaranteed as threes are an emphasis for the Japanese national team.
This Olympic qualifying tournament for Japan, unlike the three other nations, is not as important. They will be in the Tokyo Olympics no matter where they finish in the group.
However, they can spoil another nation’s chances of getting into the Summer Olympics. They have also regularly defeated China, a team Canada lost to in the 2018 FIBA Women’s World Cup.
The last team in this group is Sweden. They are ranked 22nd overall but achieved to get 6th in the last FIBA Women’s Eurobasket Cup.
Team Sweden – Olympic Qualifying Group
Sweden is a team on a high as they finished with their best FIBA Women’s Eurobasket Cup in hits national team history.
Sweden currently has one WNBA. This player is Amanda Zahui Bazoukou, a center for the New York Liberty.
Other notable players include Frida Eldebrink, who plays in Russia and twin sister Elin Eldebrink who plays in France.
On paper, Sweden may appear to be the team the other three teams including Canada should beat. However, Sweden is good enough to cause a surprise in this group. Lastly, no one knows how seriously Japan will take this Olympic qualifying tournament as they are already in the Summer Olympics.
Canada’s Chances to Qualify for the Olympics
The Canadian Women’s National Team’s goal is to get a medal in the next Summer Olympics.
They have established themselves as medal contenders and expect them to finish in the top two of this Olympic qualification cycle.
Belgium, with two WNBA players and being hosts also looks in good shape to qualify for the Olympics. However, Sweden may have something to say about that as they both finished 5th and 6th in the last FIBA Eurobasket Women’s Cup.
It is unclear how seriously Japan will take this competition. Are they going to send a B or C-Team to the Olympic qualification or bring in their best team?
The one thing people do know is that Japan can either vanquish or bring elation to the other three nations trying to make it to the Summer Olympics.
Canada’s Olympic Qualifying Group Games
Canada will start off with a tough opponent against hosts Belgium on February 6th. They will then face Sweden on February 8th and end their Olympic Qualification campaign against Japan on February 9th.