Sports

Basketball: FIBA 3×3 Olympic qualifying tournament laid bare

There will be tears of joy – and sadness – for 3×3’s top players who have dreams on the line at the upcoming Olympic Qualifying Tournament on May 26-30.

It’s almost game time for the biggest ever 3×3 event to date, so here’s a refresher of the important information every 3×3 fan needs to know.

Where can I watch?

Make sure you are following us on Twitter, TikTok and Instagram for live updates in addition to TwitchFacebook and YouTube where we will be broadcasting live and without geo-restrictions. The event will also get the biggest TV coverage in 3×3 history with over 30 different broadcasters in more than 100 countries worldwide.

Who is competing?

There are a whopping 40 teams – 20 per gender – competing in Austria.

The teams made it due to being hosts, their medal finishes at the FIBA 3×3 World Cup 2019 or because they were the highest-ranked teams in the FIBA 3×3 Federation Ranking not yet qualified.

What is at stake?

You think tickets to the next Coachella will be hard to find? You ain’t seen nothing because the 40 teams are fighting for jut six tickets to Tokyo – three for each gender.

The winners of the women’s will join the Russian Olympic Committee, China, Mongolia, and Romania, who have already qualified as the top 4 teams in the FIBA 3×3 Federation Ranking on November 1, 2019.

Serbia, the Russian Olympic Committee and China qualified as the top 3 men’s teams in the FIBA 3×3 Ranking along with host Japan.

But that’s not quite all folks. The last entrance (per gender) to the 3×3 event of the Olympics will be awarded at the FIBA 3×3 Universality Olympic Qualifying Tournament on June 4-6 in Debrecen, Hungary. Only after this event will we know the 16 teams (8 per gender) who will make history at 3×3’s Olympic debut in Tokyo on June 24-28.

Who are the favorites?

Not sure this is so relevant in the unpredictable game of 3×3 where on average 25% of the games are decided by just one single basket.

The short time frame of 10 minutes and the 21 point-target means upsets can really happen, so don’t be surprised by any result.

Still, the question has been asked so we’ve got some contenders for you. In the men’s, it’s hard to go past Latvia led by real life superheroes Karlis Lasmanis and Nauris Miezis who are coming off a domination of the men’s professional circuit, the World Tour late last year.

The mighty USA led by World Cup 2019 MVP Robbie Hummel boast enough crazy skills to feature on America’s Got Talent. With Kareem Maddox all cream around the rim, Dominque Jones aka ‘Disco Domo’ able to break ankles and Canyon Barry (the son of basketball legend Rick), the hoops power can score 21 quicker than chanting U-S-A.

In the women’s, world No.1 France – headlined by the world’s top two players Laetitia Guapo and Migna Touré – deserve top billing after dominating the Women’s Series 2019 but they are certainly no guarantee.

The fun-loving Australia may love to groove to tunes in the bleachers but on court they are angrier than a Tasmanian Devil, while World Cup 2019 silver medalist Hungary have a one-two punch of  Dora Medgyessy and Cyesha Goree that can smack around any opponent.

We’ve tried our best but don’t hold us to these predictions.

Who are the players to watch?

For a comprehensive list, here are our top players in both men’s and women’s.

To name a few, we’ve got former NBA player Hummel, women’s hoops unicorn Satou Sabally who doubles as a global leader in social justice and  a USA women’s team stacked with WNBA talent, including FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup 2018 winner Kelsey Plum.

We’ve got Italian dynamo Rae Lin D’Alie – the 3×3 World Cup 2018 MVP – who is equally good at dropping a rhyme and hoops-mad Philippines’ latest sensation Joshua Munzon will also feature in Graz.

What makes this so exciting is that there will surely be some new heroes emerge – players who are right now under the radar but will leave Austria as immediate legends in their countries.

Will you be entertained?

There will be 94 games played in Graz over five days. Teams are placed in pools of 5, including some shocking ones. Only the two top teams in each pool will make it to the knock-out rounds on the final day of competition.

Then, the 8 teams (in each gender) will play quarter-finals. The last 6 games (semi-finals and third-place games) – known as the ‘Olympic Ticket’ games – will all qualify directly to the Tokyo Olympics. One last 10-minute sprint to make it from the streets to the Olympics. Yes, we’re excited too.

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