Canadian women will learn Olympic basketball draw in March
Next steps in Canadian women’s basketball’s quest for 1st Olympic medal
The women's basketball field for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics is set with Canada punching its ticket to a third straight Games.
The No. 4-ranked Canadians went undefeated at their qualifying tournament in Ostend, Belgium with three impressive wins over the hosts, Sweden and Japan.
After the elation of qualifying, it's now back to business for the team's players and coaches. Players move on to their respective professional teams around the globe. In North America, the WNBA gets its season underway in May with training camps beginning at the end of April.
Meantime, head coach Lisa Thomaidis goes back to roaming courtside with the University of Saskatchewan Huskies women's program.
Which countries qualified?
The field is 12 countries total. Ten qualified through tournaments last week, plus the two automatic qualifiers — the United States (as 2018 FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup champs) and Japan (as Olympic hosts).
Here's who you'll see in Tokyo (in alphabetical order):
- Australia: World No. 2, since 1996 Atlanta Games they've won three silver and two bronze medals.
- Belgium: World No. 9.
- Canada: World No. 4. Best Olympic finish was fourth at the 1984 Los Angeles Games. Knocked out of the quarter-final stage in the past two Olympics.
- China: World No. 8.
- France: World No. 5.
- Japan: World No. 10.
- Korea: World No. 19.
- Nigeria: World No. 17.
- Puerto Rico: World No. 23. Will make Olympic debut in Tokyo.
- Serbia: World No. 7. 2016 Olympic bronze medallists.
- Spain: World No. 3. 2016 Olympic silver medallists.
- USA: World No. 1. Eight-time Olympic gold medallists, including the past six straight.
Who will Canada play?
They won't know until the tournament draw, which is scheduled for March 21.
There is a new tournament format in Tokyo. At previous Olympics, the 12 nations were slotted into two groups of six teams. Now, it will be three groups of four teams.
The group phase is played in a round-robin format, with each team playing the other teams in the group once. Once that is complete, the first- and second-place teams in each group plus the two best third-place teams will move on to the playoff round.
At this stage, the eight qualified teams are divided into two pots (Pot D and Pot E) to determine the quarter-final matchups. Pot D will include winners of the three groups plus the second-place team with the best record. Pot E will have the remaining second-place teams and the two best third-place squads.
Still with me?
Each quarter-final pairing will pit a team from Pot D against a team from Pot E. The exception is teams from the same group in the Group Phase can't be drawn against each other in the quarter-final.
Winners of the quarter-finals advance to the semis. The winners there play in the gold-medal game while the losers play for bronze.
When will Canada come back together?
The next Canadian training camp will be in late May in Edmonton, but won't include any any WNBA players as their season will be underway. The final roster won't be chosen until after another camp in late June/early July, also in Edmonton.
Once the roster is determined, the team will hold a pre-Olympic training camp in Kariya City, Japan, about a two-hour train ride to Tokyo. Kariya City has an interesting connection to Canada — it's been the sister-city of Mississauga, Ont since 1981.