FIBA 3x3 Olympic Qualifying Tournament: Top things to know
The all-important FIBA 3x3 Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) - set to take place between May 26-30 in Graz, Austria - is right around the corner.
Here are the top things to know about the tournament, including qualifying details for Tokyo 2020 and the top teams and stars to watch.
Stars to watch
Four of the current top-five ranked men's players will be missing from the OQT, as Serbia has already qualified for Tokyo 2020 by virtue of being one of the top four teams in the 2019 world ranking list (the Russian Olympic Committee/ROC and China have also qualified, while Japan qualified as hosts). But despite the absence of Dusan Bulut and his teammates, there are still plenty of stars to look out for in Graz.
Nauris Miezis (LAT), the current No.1-ranked player in the world and MVP of the 2020 World Tour, will lead a talented Latvian team that includes 'Batman' himself: Karlis Lasmanis, whose father Ugis Lasmanis competed in the single and double rowing sculls at Barcelona 1992 and Atlanta 1996 respectively.
Another team with some star power of their own is the USA, who can call upon the talents of 2019 World Tour MVP Dominique Jones and 2019 3x3 World Cup winners Robbie Hummel, Kareem Maddox and Canyon Barry (son of NBA legend Rick Barry).
The women's OQT will be full of elite players, too - just ask fans of the French team. The top three ranked women in the world - Laetitia Guapo, Migna Touré, and Ana Maria Filip - should all suit up for Les Bleues in Austria.
Guapo, in particular, is one player worth keeping an eye on during the entire tournament. In addition to being the number 1-ranked women's player in the world and representing Bourges Basket in Ligue Féminine and EuroLeague competition (five on five), the 25-year-old helped France win the FIBA 3x3 Europe Cup and claim the bronze medal at the 3x3 World Cup in 2019.
Outside of the French stars, 2018 3x3 World Cup winner and MVP Rae Lin D'Alie (ITA) and Las Vegas Aces point guard Kelsey Plum (USA) - who was part of the U.S. team that won gold at the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup in 2018 - bring further class to what should be an exceptional tournament.
Teams to watch
Pool A in the women's tournament might be the toughest of the entire OQT, with world No. 1 France joining the United States and Germany - led by Fenerbahçe and Dallas Wings' forward Satou Sabally - in the proverbial 'Group of Death' (Uruguay and Indonesia round out Pool A).
European powers Spain and Italy (ranked fifth and 11th in the world respectively) will meet in Pool D, while world No. 4 Japan, seeking to qualify for their home Olympics, will need to deal with 2019 3X3 World Cup fourth-place finishers Australia in what should be one of the games of the tournament.
Pool D - featuring world No. 5 Slovenia, No.7 Netherlands and No.11 Canada - is the pick of the men's draw for the OQT. Only two teams from each pool qualify for the knockout stage, and with Austria and Croatia rounding out the group, it's anyone's guess as to which pair will advance.
World No.2 USA and No.6 Lithuania should breeze through and comparatively weak Pool B, but there is no guarantee that either team will go on to receive one of the three available Olympic tickets. Granted, that would be a shock, but anything can happen in 3x3 basketball.
Schedule and competition format
The FIBA 3x3 Olympic Qualifying Tournament will take place in Graz, Austria on May 26-30, 2021.
40 teams (20 men's and 20 women's) will play a total of 80 pool games. There are four pools with five teams per pool in each tournament. Each team will the other teams in their pool for a total of four games, and the top two teams in each pool will advance to the knock-out rounds on the final day (May 30).
The final day will start with the eight quarter-finals (four in each gender), before culminating with four semi-finals and two third-place games. The winners of these six 'Olympic Ticket' games will qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Olympic 3x3 basketball at Tokyo 2020
3x3 basketball will be making its Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020 after featuring at the 2010, 2014 and 2018 Summer Youth Olympic Games.
Competition will take place from 24 July to 28 July 2021, with both men's and women's matches being played on the same days. Pool play ends on 27 July, with the quarter-finals on the same day.
The semi-finals and medal matches for each event will take place on 28 July.
Eight teams across the men's and women's competitions have already qualified for Tokyo 2020 by virtue of their 2019 federation world ranking.
Men: Serbia, Russian Olympic Committee, China, Japan (as hosts)
Women: Russian Olympic Committee (ROC), China, Mongolia, Romania
16 teams in total will compete in the 3x3 competition at the Olympics.
Six additional teams will qualify for the Games via the OQT in Graz, and the final two spots (per gender) to compete in Tokyo will be awarded at the Universality Olympic Qualifying Tournament, which will feature six teams and take place in Debrecen, Hungary on June 4-6, 2021.