(Photo: FIBA)

The Canadian senior women’s team began their training preparation for the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament on May 2, 2012 in Abbotsford. The team qualified for the Olympic Qualification tournament by virtue of capturing the bronze medal at the FIBA Americas Championship in Colombia in September 2011. 

The FIBA Olympic Qualification Tournament is a 12-team competition in Ankara, Turkey. The top five teams from this event will earn a berth in the London Olympics which kick off on July 27, 2012. 

“This upcoming Olympic qualification tournament feels like the biggest games in my career,” said veteran Kim Smith, Mission, BC. “It is the grandest stage for an athlete to play on and one that has eluded our team for the last 11 years. I just wish the games were here already!”

“Many of the athletes trying out for the team this summer have been to the World Championships and to past Olympic qualifying tournaments, so they know what that pressure is all about,” said Head Coach Allison McNeill. “At the end of the day we are playing basketball and that is what we have been preparing to do! We look at this as a privilege, we have the opportunity to represent Canada and to be Olympians. We will be dialled in and ready to go!”

The FIBA Olympic Qualification Tournament is indeed a grand tournament and perhaps can be considered daunting. The last chance to get to the Olympic stage in London. But Canada’s senior women’s team is ready. 

Smith continued, “We have a great mix of players coming into camp. We finally have more than one or two players over 25! The older you get the more urgency you start to play with. There is a group of us that experienced the heartbreak in 2008 and we will do anything to avoid that feeling. When paired up with the talented younger players we feel like we can compete with the top teams in the world.” 

The FIBA Olympic Qualification Tournament details are: 

Competition: 2012 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament for Women
Dates: June 25-July 1, 2012
Location: Ankara, Turkey 

12 Teams:

3 teams FIBA America (Canada, Argentina, Puerto Rico)
4 teams FIBA Europe (Turkey, France, Czech Republic, Croatia)
2 teams FIBA Asia (Korea, Japan)
2 teams FIBA Africa (Mali, Mozambique)
1 team FIBA Oceania (New Zealand) 


Group A – Puerto Rico, Turkey, Japan
Group B – Czech Republic, New Zealand, Argentina
Group C – Croatia, Mozambique, Korea
Group D – Canada, Mali, France 

Tournament Format:

Preliminary Round (June 25 to 27):

Each team will play all the other teams in its own group (total of 2 games for each team).
The teams placed 1st and 2nd in each group will play in the quarter finals; the teams placed 3rd will go home.
There will be a total of 12 games in the preliminary round.

Quarter Finals (June 29):

Game 13: Group A1 v Group B2
Game 14: Group B1 v Group A2
Game 15: Group C1 v Group D2
Game 16: Group D1 v Group C2
The 4 winners will qualify for the Olympic Games. The 4 losers will play in the semi-finals.

Semi Finals (June 30):

Game 17: Loser 13 v Loser 15
Game 18: Loser 14 v Loser 16
The 2 winners will play in the finals.

Finals (July 1):

Game 19: Winner 17 v Winner 18
The winner will qualify for the Olympic Games.

The 2012 Olympic Games begin on July 27-August 12, 2012. Currently the 7 qualified teams are: Great Britain, USA, Russia, Brazil, Angola, China and Australia. The 5 remaining teams will be qualified out of the 2012 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament for Women.

McNeill noted: “Having only two teams in your pool is great. We have played France and Mali in the recent past so the players are certainly familiar with them. We will be very prepared for both opponents! Every team at this qualifier is very good and we will have to be playing great basketball to get to the Olympics! We will be working very hard over the next 7 weeks to be ready for the challenge.”

“This is what our athletes have been working towards for a very long time, so yes, they are very motivated and driven to get to the 2012 London Olympics,” said Coach McNeill. “This is Teresa Gabriele's 14th year on the National Team. She is the only athlete who has been to the Olympics – she was on our 2000 Olympic team. Chelsea Aubry (8 years on the senior team) and Kim Smith (7 years on the senior team) are veterans of two world championships and have a great deal of international experience. Tamara Tatham and Lizanne Murphy have both been on the team for 5 years and they had great years in Europe, Tamara in Germany and Lizanne in France. We also have some of our athletes coming through from our strong junior program and I know they are equally excited for this opportunity so early in their careers.”