Photo Couresy of:

Canada basketball
Holly MacKenzie

Canada tips-off FIBA Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament 2024 action in Hungary, live Thursday on Sportsnet

What: FIBA Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament 2024

When: Feb. 8-11, 2024

Where: Sopron, Hungary

Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament tip-off

The Canadian Senior Women’s National Team will open play in the FIBA Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament 2024 at Arena Sopron, in Sopron, Hungary against the host team Hungary on Thursday, Feb. 8 at 1 p.m. ET/ 10 a.m. PT. Canada earned their spot in the Qualifying Tournament after going undefeated in the FIBA Olympic Pre-Qualifying Tournament in November with a perfect 3-0 record.

Tournament format

In this current cycle of qualification, there are four Olympic Qualifying Tournaments taking place in February 2024. There are 16 teams participating in the four Qualifying Tournaments that are being played in Sopron, Hungary, Belém, Brazil, XI’An China and Antwerp, Belgium. 12 teams, including France (host of the 2024 Summer Olympics) and USA (winner of the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup 2022), will qualify for the women’s Olympic Basketball Tournament. Also joining Canada in Hungary are Japan and Spain.

Suiting up

Canada unveiled their 12-player roster for the tournament on Tuesday. While veteran Kia Nurse was a late scratch after sustaining a minor injury during training camp, Natalie Achonwa, Kayla Alexander, Laeticia Amihere, Bridget Carleton, Shay Colley, Yvonne Ejim, Nirra Fields, Sami Hill, Aislinn Konig, Shaina Pellington, Emily Potter and Syla Swords will suit up in the red and white in Hungary.

“We are excited to announce our Canadian Senior Women’s National Team roster for the FIBA Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournament," Team Canada Head Coach Víctor Lapeña said. "Facing Hungary at home, as well as world-class opponents like Spain and Japan, will be an important challenge for our team, but one we have been tirelessly preparing for over the last several weeks. I have the utmost confidence and trust in our group as we look to qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.”

Achonwa -- who returned from maternity leave during Canada’s undefeated Pre-Olympic Qualifying Tournament performance in November -- has been playing for Team Canada for 15 years. Swords and Ejim will be playing their 10th and ninth games, respectively. The Canadian Senior Women’s Team roster features a full range of veterans and youth, with everyone on the team sharing one common goal.

In a recent interview with SLAM magazine, 18-year-old Swords talked about the inspiration she gets from her teammates, including Kia Nurse. “She’s where I want to be in the next 10-15 years,” Swords said. Just growing up, watching her do what she’s done for Team Canada, it’s been really fun. Hopefully, I can follow her path.

Like the rest of her teammates, she understands and embraces the unique opportunity of suiting up for Team Canada.

“Every time I get on the floor, I know I’m representing a country. Even now, in high school and [playing] American ball. I’m still known as the Canadian guard…[I’m representing something bigger than myself,” she told SLAM.

Ready to go

Before arriving in Hungary, the team held a week-long training camp in Vienna. Members of the team who were in Toronto before flying to Vienna also got together to train on home soil as well.

Canada enters the tournament ranked fifth in the FIBA World Ranking Women, Presented by Nike, after an update to the rankings following the FIBA Women’s Continental championships.

In addition to going undefeated in the Pre-Olympic Qualifying Tournament this past November, Canada also had a third-place finish at the FIBA Women’s AmeriCup 2023 this past July in Mexico.

A trip to Paris would be the team’s fourth consecutive Olympic Games. It would be their eighth appearance in the Women’s Olympic Basketball Tournament since the sport was added at the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal. To book their ticket to Paris this summer, Canada will need a top-three finish in this tournament.

Canada’s tournament schedule

Canada will open tournament play on Thursday against 19th-ranked host team Hungary at 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT. They will be in action on Friday, Feb. 9 when they take on No. 4 ranked Spain at 9:30 a.m. ET/ 6:30 a.m. PT. Finally, Canada will close out tournament action in Hungary on Sunday, Feb. 11 at 9 a.m. ET / 6 a.m. PT against 9th-ranked Japan.

Where to watch

Fans in Canada can catch all of the action live on Sportsnet and Sportsnet Plus as well as streaming on Courtside 1891.