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How did each nation land at the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup 2022 Qualifying Tournaments?
SYDNEY (Australia) - The FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup 2022 Qualifying Tournaments are almost upon us, but how did each of the 16 participating nations confirm their respective tickets?
Set to take place across three locations, namely Belgrade (SRB), Osaka (JPN) and Washington DC (USA) between February 10-13, plenty of exciting basketball lies in store.
And, this was the route taken by each country to get to this stage - just one step away from the flagship FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup 2022 in Sydney later this year.
Belgrade (SRB) A
Australia (already qualified)
Route: FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup 2022 hosts
The host nation are obviously assured of their place at the big event later this year and will head into the tournament after what was a very mixed 2021. Things didn't go to plan for Sandy Brondello and her team at Tokyo 2020 as they labored to the Quarter-Finals where they were then hammered by USA. However, there was an uplift in mood when they subsequently changed their entire roster and still claimed a bronze medal at the FIBA Women's Asia Cup 2021.
Route: 4th place at the FIBA Women's Asia Cup 2021
It was bitter-sweet for Korea as they bounced back from a winless Tokyo 2020 campaign last year with a positive showing at the FIBA Women's Asia Cup 2021 in Amman. With a new head coach in Sunmin Jung and some good work from Hyejin Park and Isaem Choi, they impressed early. Chasing a podium spot, they ultimately fell short after losing to Australia in the bronze medal game, but at least had the considerable compensation of making the top four.
Route: 1st place at the FIBA Women's EuroBasket 2021
Led by the legendary and now retired Sonja Vasic, her towering displays proved to be sensational as the TISSOT MVP propelled Serbia to an unexpected title. The 2015 winners took the silverware for a second time, beating France in the Final - as they had six years earlier. As well as Vasic, there were excellent showings from another retiree in Jelena Brooks, plus Tina Krajisnik and Yvonne Anderson who will both be key figures in their pursuit of a place in Sydney.
Route: 3rd place at the FIBA Women's AmeriCup 2021
Brazil are now showing some consistency again after they booked their place at the Qualifying Tournaments courtesy of another FIBA Women's AmeriCup bronze medal. Repeating their finish from 2019, it was a successful time in San Juan as they beat Canada to take the last podium step. Veteran forward Clarissa Dos Santos proved the difference-maker as she logged an All-Star Five spot.
Belgrade (SRB) B
Route: 2nd place at the FIBA Women's EuroBasket 2021
France didn't know whether to laugh or cry when they finished second yet again at the FIBA Women's EuroBasket. Beaten by Serbia in the Final, it was a jaw-dropping sixth time in a row they lost the title game and had to settle for silver. At least they still made it to the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup 2022 Qualifying Tournaments, helped by some excellent offerings from veteran Endy Miyem who was included in the All-Star Five.
Route: 2nd at the FIBA Women's Asia Cup 2021
While able to celebrate taking a step towards another FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup appearance, it was still an agonizing feeling for China in Jordan as they lost a classic matchup in the Final against fierce rivals Japan. Hoping to be crowned continental champions for the first time in a decade and looking very much like the favorites, they lost 78-73 in the last game of the competition. Still, Sijing Huang, Yueru Li and Xu Han all showed enough brilliance on the court to suggest good times lie ahead.
Route: 1st place at the FIBA Women's AfroBasket 2021
It was three FIBA Women's AfroBasket titles in a row for Nigeria as they defended their crown in Cameroon last year, led by captain Adaora Elonu who produced an MVP display. They won every game by double-digit margins to underline their supremacy, with other good contributions from Ezinne Kalu and Victoria Macaulay.
Route: 2nd place at the FIBA Women's AfroBasket 2021
There were big celebrations for Mali despite not being able to take the title at the FIBA Women's AfroBasket 2021. After two straight bronze medals, they improved and took silver as they made the Final for the first time since 2009, mainly off the back of a towering performance from center Mariam Coulibaly. But most importantly, they also booked a place at next month's Qualifying Tournaments where they will represent Africa along with Nigeria.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Route: 5th place at the FIBA Women's EuroBasket 2021
It was one of the fairytale stories of 2021 as Bosnia and Herzegovina returned to the FIBA Women's EuroBasket for the first time since their debut back in the 1990's. They made a huge splash and history by making it out of the Group phase for the first time, then making the Quarter-Finals, and then attaining a best-ever top five finish. Much of what they achieved was due to quite a phenomenal tournament by the Jonquel Jones.
Route: 1st place at the FIBA Women's Asia Cup 2021
After their sensational and historic first appearance in an Olympic Final, the silver medalists changed coaches and replaced Tom Hovasse with Toru Onzuka. Heading to the FIBA Women's Asia Cup as defending champions and without several key stars, they still managed to come out on top again, landing a fifth consecutive trophy - beating China in an epic title game.
Route: 4th place at the FIBA Women's AmeriCup 2021
Despite being the fourth ranked nation in the global game, Canada posted their worst finish at the FIBA Women's AmeriCup in 14 years as they only just scraped a place in the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup 2022 Qualifying Tournaments. While there was some mitigation in respect of missing some big hitters, their failure to make the Olympic Quarter-Finals made it an underwhelming calendar year. It also led to Lisa Thomadis being replaced as head coach by Victor Lapena.
Route: 4th place at the FIBA Women's EuroBasket 2021
One of the big surprise packages at the FIBA Women's EuroBasket 2021, Belarus defied predictions of a struggle, not least because they didn't even make it to the event two years earlier in 2019. However, they stunned Spain with a thrilling last gasp win in Valencia and used their defense and slow tempo to continue grinding out results. Even though they didn't manage to take bronze like they did previously in 2007, they were still thrilled to make the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup Qualifying Tournaments - having last appeared at the main event back in 2014.
Washington DC (USA)
Route: 6th place at the FIBA Women's EuroBasket 2021
Led by the brilliant Maria Vadeeva and a breakout show from Nina Glonti, Russia had a long wait to ensure they took their place in the Qualifying Tournaments. While they could just about consider themselves to have advanced, courtesy of a tense win against FIBA Women's EuroBasket 2021 co-hosts Spain to take 6th place, it was not guaranteed. They only got the official thumbs up when Spain didn't win the title at the Tokyo Olympics.
USA (already qualified)
Route: 1st place at the Tokyo Olympics
USA won yet another Olympic title last year as they occupied the top step on the podium at Tokyo 2020. The reigning FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup 2022 champions are already qualified off the back of their success in the Japanese capital. With a new play-caller in Cheryl Reeve and a wealth of talent at their disposal, they will use the Washington DC tournament as preparation for Sydney.
Route: 2nd place at the FIBA Women's AmeriCup 2021
It was a glorious event for Puerto Rico as they hosted the FIBA Women's AmeriCup 2021 and celebrated by taking a maiden silver medal after making their first ever Final. Doing so on home soil was special and while they ended up being predictably beaten by USA, it was still a joyous campaign and their best ever finish in the tournament. They will, of course, be reunited with USA in Washington DC next month.
Route: 3rd place at the FIBA Women's EuroBasket 2021
As one of the frontrunners heading into the competition, it turned out to be a roller-coaster for the Cats. A huge loss in the group phase against Bosnia and Herzegovina put them under pressure, but they responded to make a deep run. Disappointed to miss out on the Final, they rallied and beat Belarus in the Third Place game to land only their second ever medal and match the bronze they attained in 2017. Emma Meesseman (pictured) and Julie Allemand excelled and both grabbed a place in the All-Star Five.