Canadian Women’s Basketball: Summer Olympics Group A Preview

The Canadian women’s basketball team will be making their fourth straight Olympics appearance in Tokyo this year. They are currently ranked fourth in the world and will be looking to get their first-ever medal in the Tokyo Olympics. Canada currently has the third most WNBA players by nationality, only behind Australia and the U.S. Despite that, Canada will be in a tough group with defending Summer Olympic silver medalists Spain and defending Summer Olympic bronze medalists Serbia.

2020 Tokyo Olympics Group A Preview for Canadian Women’s Basketball

Serbia

The defending bronze medalists are ranked eighth in the world according to FIBA. They advanced to the FIBA Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Belgrade by finishing third place in EuroBasket Women 2019 (also known as the 2019 European Women Basketball Championship). They were put in a group with the U.S., Nigeria, and Mozambique. The Serbians advanced to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics thanks to a 70-64 win over Nigeria and a 76-48 win over Mozambique.

This will be Serbia’s second straight appearance in the Summer Olympics. There are currently no WNBA players from Serbia. It is also important to note that they do have a pro basketball league called First Women’s Basketball League of Serbia, which was founded in 2006. They are a team that should not be underestimated and a team that is capable of defeating Canada and/or Spain.

South Korea

South Korea, currently ranked 19th, is the lowest-ranked of the four teams in Group A. This will be their first Olympic appearance since 2008, where they finished eighth place in Beijing, China. They currently only have one WNBA player in JiSu Park. She was selected seventeenth by the Minnesota Lynx in 2018. However, in that same year, she was dropped by the Lynx and picked up by the Las Vegas Aces in 2018 according to the WNBA. She had a decent rookie season in 2018, averaging 2.8 points and 3.3 rebounds per game. Unfortunately, her stats have gone down dramatically in 2019, averaging only 1.1 rebounds and 0.8 points per game. South Korea made the FIBA Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament by finishing in the top two of Group A in the Asia/Oceania qualifiers.

However, this is not to say that South Korea cannot make an upset in the Olympics. In the Olympic qualifying, they defeated 18th ranked Great Britain, which finished fourth in the EuroBasket 2019. This played a big role in South Korea qualifying for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. South Korea faced Canada in the 2018 FIBA Women’s World Cup and lost 82-63.

Spain

The defending silver medalists are ranked third in the world. This will be their fifth appearance in the Summer Olympics. Their personal best is a silver medal in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio De Janeiro. They have also medalled in the last three FIBA Women’s World Cups including a silver in 2014. However, they will also not have Sancho Lyttle on the team. Lyttle is a two-time WNBA All-Star, two-time WNBA steals leader, and FIBA Europe Women’s Player of the Year in 2013.

This is a big loss for Spain, but they still have some great players coming out of the country, including two current WNBA players. Maite Cazorla for example averaged 3.0 points and 1.6 assists in the 2019 WNBA season with the Atlanta Dream. Then there is Astou Ndour of the Dallas Wings. The center/power forward, born in Senegal has the most experienced in the WNBA. Her two most notable seasons were 2016 and 2019. In the 2016 WNBA season with the San Antonio Silver Stars, Ndour averaged 6.0 points and 3.2 rebounds per game. She would then average 6.8 points and 4.2 rebounds with the Chicago Sky in 2019.

 

Spain eliminated Canada from the 2018 FIBA Women’s World Cup 53-68. They also defeated Canada in the group stage play of the 2016 Summer Olympics by a score of 73-60. Of the four teams in the group, Spain will be the favorites to win Group A. They won the 2019 European Women Basketball Championship and finished second in their FIBA Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament group, ahead of both South Korea and Great Britain.

The Canadian Women’s Basketball Olympic Group Overview

How Canada reached the 2020 Summer Olympics

Canada has the most WNBA players of the four countries on this list and currently has a very talented roster. This includes Kia Nurse, who made the 2019 WNBA All-Star Game. They also won all their games in the Olympic qualifying group. This included tough teams such as Sweden, Belgium, and Japan. However, that does not mean it is a shoo-in that they will win the group. All three teams in Canada’s group have strong basketball leagues back home. This is something Canada does not currently have even though there is work behind the scenes to get an amateur basketball league up and running in the Maritimes next year.

Tokyo Olympics Overview and Expectations for Team Canada

There are three groups in the Olympics. The top two teams from each group automatically qualify for the quarterfinals. Then two of the best three-place finishers also qualify for the quarterfinals. Canada should finish first or second in this group, especially after their performance in the FIBA Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

It is also important though that Canada does not finish below that. Yes, finishing third could also mean Canada’s advances to the quarterfinals. That could also mean a quarterfinal date with the U.S. Since 1996, the U.S. has won a gold medal in every single Summer Olympics. The only time the U.S. did not win a Gold Medal in the WNBA era was the 2006 FIBA World Championship for Women. In that tournament, the U.S. lost to Russia in the semi-finals 75-65 and beat Brazil 99-56 to win the bronze medal.

Canada’s best performance was in the 1984 Summer Olympics, where they finished fourth place. They most recently finished seventh in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil. Their first game will be against Serbia on July 26. They will then play South Korea on July 29 and will end their group stage play against Spain on August 1. All games of the Olympics in women’s basketball will be played at Saitama Super Arena in Tokyo, Japan.

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