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February 2024
8 Maki Takada (JPN)
10/02/2024
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Preview: Who's getting out of the 'Group of Death' and making it to Paris 2024?

SOPRON (Hungary) - It promises to be a 'Super Sunday' in Sopron as all four nations at the FIBA Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournament head into a blockbuster day with a chance of taking a ticket to Paris.

 

 

It's currently a four-way tie with all teams having won once and lost once. Three teams will advance to this year's Games, with one missing out. You can find more information on the permutations HERE.

Canada vs Japan 

Tournament records: Both teams are 1-1, with Canada having opened up with an impressive 67-55 success against Hungary, before then being edged out by Spain 60-55. Meanwhile Japan started like a bullet train and blasted past Spain 86-75, but then went down 81-75 in a shock defeat to Hungary.


Last meeting:
The pair met 18 months ago at the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup 2022 in Sydney, with Canada locking down Japan 70-56

Key matchups: Kayla Alexander has been a colossus for Canada and with Japan not blessed with physicality, how they manage to deal with her and push her off the block and glass will be massively important. Throw in Natalie Achonwa's size and experience and it will be a war in the paint for the likes of Maki Takada and Himawari Akaho.

X-Factor: Tempo, tempo, tempo - with a bit of whether Bridget Carleton can re-discover the hot hand as well. Firstly, Canada must do everything possible to make it a half-court game and stop Japan in transition. Good shot selection and crashing those offensive boards will be vital. Meanwhile, having gone ice cold 1-13 in the last game, Carleton needs to get firing again as one of the few Canada ballers capable of making some noise from downtown.

Stats Don't Lie: Canada are shooting just 21.7 percent from behind the three-point line while Japan are shooting more than 35 percent. However, Canada are far superior in rebounding prowess and have 46 per game compared to just 29 for Japan.

Did You Know? There is a sense of deja vu since these two also met on Belgian soil four years ago at the FIBA Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournament 2020. Canada won a thriller 70-68!


Three teams will advance, with one missing out and that means we can expect two blockbuster games, with more information on the permutations HERE.

Spain vs Hungary

Tournament records: Each nation is currently 1-1, with Spain having fallen 86-75 to Japan on the first day of action, before bouncing back and grinding out a  60-55 success against Canada. It was a day to forget for host nation Hungary last Thursday as they crashed 67-55 to Canada, but certainly a day to remember when they beat Japan  81-75 only 24 hours later.


Last meeting:
The pair met in the Semi-Finals of the FIBA Women's EuroBasket 2023 in Ljubljana, with Spain coming out on top 69-60 after Alba Torrens rolled back the years with a sparkling 27-point performance. 

Key matchups: Bernadett Hatar and Laura Gil might be a tasty one to watch since they are club colleagues in EuroLeague Women at Perfumerias Avenida and so will have been going up against each other in practice plenty of times. Hatar was the TCL Player of the Game against Japan, while Gil has been in great form of late. Also watch out for Reka Lelik potentially locking horns with Alba Torrens on the wing. Both are potential game-winners.

X-Factor: Hungary have to look after the ball. The pressure from Japan was good practice for Spain's aggressive and physical defense. Hungary must stand up to this. On paper at least, it looks like a close matchup, so a big 'X-Factor' is who will take the clutch shots- and make them. Torrens torched Hungary last year doing just that, but multiple Hungary players dropped absolutely stunning shots against Japan. All eyes will be on two classy and strong frontcourts, but it will be what drops from the backcourt and wings which is most likely to decide the outcome.

Stats Don't Lie: Canada Spain only spill the ball 10.5 times per game, with Hungary on almost twice as many with more than 18 per outing. Although interestingly on the flip-side, Hungary have done a much better job punishing teams when they capitalize on spillages, scoring an eye-catching 17.5 points per game off turnovers, compared to Spain's 10.5 points.

Did You Know? These teams know each other so well, since they didn't just meet last year at the FIBA Women's EuroBasket 2023, they played each other twice in the Qualifiers for that event. So it is three meetings in the last few years. Hungary have lost them all but only by 4, 6 and 11 points respectively. Is it now their time to shine?

FIBA