Canadian women grab 2 wins on opening day of final Olympic 3x3 basketball qualifier

Canada began play with mixed results Thursday at a last-chance Olympic 3x3 basketball qualification tournament in Debrecen, Hungary. The top-ranked women opened with victories over Chile and Lithuania, while the No. 15 men beat Spain and lost to Egypt.

Men's squad splits 2 games; Teams complete pool play Saturday in Debrecen, Hungary

Four Canadian 3x3 basketball women's athletes wearing red and white jerseys huddle on the court during a spot in play at a last-chance Olympic qualifying tournament on May 16, 2024 in Debrecen, Hungary.
From left: Katherine Plouffe, Paige Crozon, Kacie Bosch and Michelle Plouffe earned a pair of wins Thursday to begin play at a 16-team, last-chance Olympic qualifying tournament in Debrecen, Hungary. (X/@CanBball)

Canada began play with mixed results at a last-chance Olympic 3x3 basketball qualification tournament in Debrecen, Hungary on Thursday.

The top-ranked women opened with victories over Chile (21-11) and Lithuania (19-16) while the world No. 15 men split their games, defeating Spain (18-14) but losing to Egypt (21-18).

"We knew it was going to be two tough games," Katherine Plouffe told Canada Basketball. "All of the teams are fighting for a spot in the Olympics so there are no easy battles, for sure."

The top three finishers in the respective 16-team events will round out the eight-team field in Paris. Host France, Australia, Azerbaijan, China and United States previously qualified on the women's side.

Two weeks ago, the Canadians were one win away from securing a spot at a Japan qualifier but fell in the final of that tourney to Australia.

The top two teams from each pool will advance to the quarterfinals in Hungary. Those four quarterfinal winners will meet in the semifinals, with each semifinal winner and the third-place finisher qualifying for Paris this summer.

Canada's women occupy top spot in Pool B and will face the Czech Republic in their final group match on Saturday at 11:05 a.m. ET.

'We know [the Czechs have] some good shooters," Katherine Plouffe said. "We've faced them a couple of times in the last year and last season [and had] two different outcomes: One we lost and one we won. We're looking to improve communication because a lot of the game is on the move and on the fly."

Against ninth-ranked Lithuania, the Canadians grabbed momentum when Michelle Plouffe snapped a 14-14 tie with a two-point shot.

The standard three-point line serves as the two-point line in 3-on-3, while baskets made from inside the arc are worth one.

With 82 seconds left in the match, Lithuania's Kamile Nacickaite was assessed a technical foul after she slapped the ball on the court while disputing a foul call.

WATCH | Full match replay — Canada vs. Lithuania:

FIBA Women's 3x3 Olympic Qualifying Tournament Debrecen: Canada vs. Lithuania

28 days ago
Duration 25:51
Watch Canada play Lithuania at the FIBA Women's 3x3 Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Debrecen, Hungary.

Success from foul line

Canada, the two-time defending Women's Series champions, subsequently extended its lead to 18-14 on free throws by Paige Crozon and Kacie Bosch.

Lithuania cut the deficit to 18-16 but ran out of time when Nacickaite was called for a shot clock violation and Michelle Plouffe scored from under the basket at the buzzer.

Michelle and her twin sister, Katherine, combined for 15 points. Michelle had three of her team's six foul shots while the Canadians shot 45 per cent from the field.

Nacickaite had eight points to lead Lithuania, which shot 77 per cent from the field (10-for-13) but only put away three of its 10 attempts from the foul line.

Canada closed out a 21-11 victory with a 9-0 run against Spain, which ranks 20th in the world. Paige Crozon completed the scoring with a two-pointer with 3:04 on the clock. Games end when a team reaches 21 points or the 10-minute time limit expires.

Michelle Plouffe posted game highs with eight points and four rebounds, while Katherine added five points and three rebounds.

WATCH | Full match replay — Canada vs. Chile:

FIBA Women's 3x3 Olympic Qualifying Tournament Debrecen: Canada vs. Chile

28 days ago
Duration 19:56
Watch Canada play Chile at the FIBA Women's 3x3 Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Debrecen, Hungary.

The Canadians shot 73 per cent from the field and 50 per cent (4-for-8) from the foul line.

Most recently, Canada missed a chance to qualify for the Olympics earlier this month in Utsunomiya, Japan, where Australia eked out a 19-16 victory over the Canadians in the final.

In men's action, Canada's Jérôme Desrosiers, Bikramjit Gill, Alex Johnson and Kamar Mcknight pulled out a narrow win over No. 16 Spain before a close loss to 21st-ranked Egypt.

After a six-point performance versus the Spaniards, Johnson led the way with 10 points, including a 3-for-3 showing from two-point range, and a pair of rebounds against Egypt.

Egypt performed better than Canada from the field (64 per cent to 54) and had five turnovers compared to eight by the Canadians.

"After watching the film, a lot of the mistakes were our doing, so just learning and correcting to be better for Saturday [is the focus]," Johnson said.

Canada faces sixth-ranked France on Saturday at 11:55 a.m. ET.

"It's going be a dog fight and I'm excited," Johnson said. "It's everything you could ask for; You are in the driver seat and you control your destiny. Win or go home. We are going to do everything that is needed to be prepared."

WATCH | Full match replay — Canada vs. Spain:

FIBA Men's 3x3 Olympic Qualifying Tournament Debrecen: Canada vs. Egypt

28 days ago
Duration 24:32
Watch Canada play Egypt at the FIBA Men's 3x3 Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Debrecen, Hungary.

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