08 - 11
February 2024
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Women's Olympic Basketball Tournament Paris 2024 Smart Power Rankings, Volume 2

MIES (Switzerland) - The FIBA Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournaments 2024 are in the books, so it's time for Volume 2 of the Smart Power Rankings and the first showing only those nations off to Paris 2024.



Considering all the 12 participating teams and reviewing their performances at the respective FIBA Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournaments in Antwerp, Belem, Sopron and Xi'An - here's how it's looking. 

#12 Puerto Rico  Puerto Rico  (-1)

WOQT Record : 1-2
FIBA World Ranking presented by Nike: 12th 

Puerto Rico got the win they needed and that's all that matters - right? Well, kind of. But it was a tough watch as they labored to beat New Zealand who were without their two best players in Penina Davidson and Charlisse Leger-Walker. Had just one of them been around, Puerto Rico would surely have had their pass for Paris revoked. Or, had the shoe been on the other foot and they were missing Mya Hollingshed or Arella Guirantes, then they would have come up short.

The Islanders need to do much better if they want to make history with a first Olympic win when they step out in France. The usually excellent Guirantes looked off color as her efficiency of less than 5 would testify - although she did come up clutch against the Tall Ferns. Thank goodness for Hollingshed, whose value was felt once again as she made the All-Star Five.

#11 Nigeria  NGR  (+1) 

WOQT Record : 1-2
FIBA World Ranking presented by Nike: 11th 

Credit to Rene Wakama and her team which was missing some of the stars that stepped out at Tokyo 2020 and despite the absence of ballers that are playing at a higher level club-wise, the crop in Antwerp got the win they needed against Senegal. They were under a lot of pressure with some questioning if this D'Tigress lineup could get it done and avoid defeat.

It was close, but with the superb Amy Okonwko to lead them, they eased out their African rivals and she deservedly got a slot in the All-Star Five. Of course, the subsequent games against USA and Belgium exposed a worrying gulf in class, but that is for another day. As Coach Wakama and many of the players at the event continually reiterated, the Nigerian 'Warrior' spirit is alive and well.

#10 Serbia SRB   (-)

WOQT Record : 1-2
FIBA World Ranking presented by Nike: 10th

Marina Maljkovic always finds a way. As the assignment gets more difficult, she continues to perform what some would say are continued miracles. Of course, without the truly exceptional Yvonne Anderson in Belem, Serbia would have sunk without a trace.

A shout-out needs to be given to Dragana Stankovic by the way who is producing some of the best basketball of her career. Without her very impressive cameo in support of Anderson, it might have also resulted in missing out. Serbia did what they needed to do by beating Brazil and almost upset Australia, but did have to rely on others. It will be interesting to see if they can deliver any hard punches in Paris.

#9 Canada  CAN  (-2)

WOQT Record : 1-2
FIBA World Ranking presented by Nike: 5th 

That must have been an extraordinary roller coaster of emotion for Victor Lapena and his players, as well as everyone rooting for Canada basketball. Their Paris dreams were in shreds when Hungary went up by 22 points against Spain, before coming back in a near miracle to win by a point and send Canada through.

Kayla Alexander was superb with her tournament double-double and it's just as well. Semi-Finalists at the Women's World Cup only 18 months ago, Canada dodged a bullet. They will be better in Paris with Kia Nurse back in the mix and Natalia Achonwa fitter and stronger. But their perimeter play needs an upgrade and they so need a dominant ball-handler.

#8 Germany GER (+1) 

WOQT Record : 2-1
FIBA World Ranking presented by Nike: 23rd

The history-makers! With that vital opening day win against Serbia, Germany left it until the last game to seal the deal by beating host nation Brazil. Putting aside the blowout at the hands of the Opals when they did not have the Sabally sisters suiting up, it was a job well done.

In fact, this has wider significance for not only German basketball but at the global level as it provides fantastic momentum ahead of them hosting the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup 2026. Leonie Fiebich was outstanding as usual, but with Satou and Nyara Sabally in situ, it's a game-changer! Now what about the potential of Lisa Thomaidis going up against Canada in Paris?  When's the draw again?

#7 Spain  ESP (-1)

WOQT Record : 2-1
FIBA World Ranking presented by Nike: 4th 

It was such a mixed bag from Spain and they certainly didn't live up to their billing as a top team in the world with these performances. The opening-day loss to Japan was disappointing, but the win against Canada showed great spirit and character, with the win against Hungary when the pressure was off basically showing Spain in a nutshell. Inconsistent. Poor in the first half and superb in the second when they came roaring back to take that 1-point win.

There is work to be done. More time integrating Megan Gustafson will make them more effective. Many players are capable of producing but need to turn up the volume in more games - there were glimpses from Maria Conde, Queralt Casas and others, but they must show their quality consistently. Raquel Carrera showed again what a baller she is and in truth, this was all about getting Spain back on that global stage after missing Sydney. Job done!

#6 Japan  JPN  (+2) 

WOQT Record : 2-1
FIBA World Ranking presented by Nike: 9th 

Even if they lost to Hungary, all the talk is whether they are now moving in a direction that could see them capture that remarkable form of the Tokyo Olympic Games. Beating Spain and Canada is an impressive feat and with their shooting, spacing and transition game they will always put points on the board. A joy for the neutrals to watch because of their unique style, Japan's presence at the Games will be good for the promotion of women's hoops at the big show.

Mai Yamamoto was MVP and it has been coming. The new lead star of the show, she is the next generation of ballers taking over from those who went before such as Yuko Oga or Ramu Tokashiki. That is exciting. But for Japan, it remains nothing but a team game. Six players in double-digits for efficiency in this tournament show why they are such a dangerous opponent and so great to follow for fans of the women's game.

#5 China  CHN  (-3)

WOQT Record : 2-1
FIBA World Ranking presented by Nike: 2nd

With two games that were always going to be walkovers in the shape of Puerto Rico and New Zealand, all eyes were fixed on the game against France. What a disaster for China as they crashed by 32 points. They turned it over 22 times and it was a day to forget in front of their fans. What does this tell us about the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup 2022 Finalists? Well, it depends if you want to believe it was just one of those very rare off days.

They don't need to push the panic button, but maybe just listen to the alarm bell. While the overall stats of big hitters Li Meng, Li Yueru and Han Xu look fine - their numbers were padded out with the outings against Puerto Rico and New Zealand. Only Li Meng showed her true face against the French. China's backcourt looked worryingly ineffective and the big question is whether they can get onto the podium in Paris without a dominant top-class guard?

#5 Australia  AUS  (+1) 

WOQT Record : 3-0
FIBA World Ranking presented by Nike: 3rd

Sandy Brondello and her Opals' ballers went unbeaten in Belem and even if their last game against Serbia was a narrow squeak, they had already punched their ticket beforehand. Deep and with so many options, predictions that Ezi Magbegor would rise as the star and have her best tournament in an Opals vest materialized as she was crowned MVP.

It was encouraging to see Bec Allen back near her best again, while the introduction of some young players was also positive. Australia will surely now improve on that ordinary 8th place finish in Tokyo, with Brondello's main headache now finding her best starting five with so much experience and youth to choose from.

#3 France    (+1) 

WOQT Record : 3-0
FIBA World Ranking presented by Nike: 7th 

Magnifique! France were awesome in their game against China and absolutely owned the hosts way beyond anybody's expectations and maybe their own, too. Marine Johannes had the green light to shoot from anywhere - and did. They dropped. Gabby Williams was immense as MVP of the tournament and having those two back is truly transformational and thrusts them, in theory at least towards a potential podium spot in Paris.

You have to say this after beating the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup 2022 Finalists in China! But the fly in the ointment is this. It's fine to ball out under zero pressure with your Olympic spot assured, will Johannes and Co make those when the heat is on this summer in the French capital?

#2 Belgium  BEL  (+1) 

WOQT Record : 2-1
FIBA World Ranking presented by Nike: 6th

What a tournament this was for the Cats. A record-breaking crowd of 13,700 for THAT game against USA that will be talked about for years. The most glorious of defeats. Most notably the 81-79 loss and near upset came with tournament MVP Emma Meesseman only scoring 6 points and without star guard Julie Allemand or center Kyara Linskens. These Cats just keep balling as a team.

Rachid Meziane continues to do a great job and you have to say the continued emergence of Maxuella Lisowa-Mbaka is a bonus. Belgium were dominant against Senegal and Nigeria, so it was more or less party time all weekend and the connection this team has with their fans is truly special. More than 30,000 went to Sportpaleis. Just incredible!

#1 USA  USA   (-)

WOQT Record : 3-0
FIBA World Ranking presented by Nike: 1st

The glass has to be half full for USA after their major scare against Belgium. They escaped a shock loss thanks to 'Stewie's' now famous intervention with 0.1 seconds left and were pushed so hard that this can only be a good thing in sharpening their focus ahead of defending their Olympic title in Paris. Napheesa Collier really was superb and she could be about to become the main attraction for USA moving forward.

With A'ja Wilson to return and the possibility of Brittney Griner perhaps also, that frontcourt will get even more powerful. But it is maybe in the backcourt and on the wings where things will get interesting for USA's selection panel. Not least, Rhyne Howard showing her teeth and making the All-Star Five. Importantly USA looked like they all had fun being in Antwerp and the smiles of being overseas in front of those amazing Belgian crowds were clear to see.

*The power rankings are entirely subjective and are in no way a true, accurate ranking system. All comments are purely those of the author.

Paul Nilsen

Paul Nilsen

The FIBA Women's Olympic Basketball Tournament Paris 2024 Power Rankings are put together by our EXPERT PANEL, led by FIBA's women's basketball specialist Paul Nilsen. He eats, sleeps and breathes female hoops and is incredibly passionate about the promotion of the women's game at all levels. Paul uses an extensive network of players, coaches, clubs and Federations to shape his work and opinions.