Australian women's 3x3 Olympic aspirations alive as men's hopes extinguished

In a grand ceremony on the eve of the 2019 FIBA 3x3 World Tour Final in Utsonomiya, Japan, the 8 men's and women's teams that have directly qualified for the sports' debut at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics were unveiled, while a further 20 teams across both genders set to fight it out for the remaining 6 places the FIBA 3x3 Olympic Qualifiers in March 2020.

With the Olympic qualification process is based on Federation ranking status, as the highest ranked nation in the Oceania region with a world ranking of 28 as at 1 November 2019, Australia's women have secured a berth at the Olympic Qualifiers to be played in India from 18-22 March 2020. They will be one of 20 teams vying for just 3 tickets to the Olympics, having just edged out New Zealand from contention who were ranked 31 in the world.

Despite their status as 2019 FIBA 3x3 Asia Cup champions like their female counterparts, Australia's men who finished 10th in their World Cup debut in June have seen their Olympic hopes extinguished. Their world ranking of 37 was eclipsed by that of trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand who are 5 places ahead at 32, therefore eliminating the Aussies from Olympic contention.

The FIBA 3x3 Federation Rankings are calculated by adding up the FIBA 3x3 Individual World Ranking points of the Top 100 nationals. It not only rewards the elite performances of the players but also the 3x3 activity in the territory of each National Federation.

One of 3x3’s missions is to bring basketball to new countries, which are not traditional basketball powerhouses and FIBA has put in place a series of universality rules. A maximum of 10 teams per continent and a minimum of 30 different countries must take part at the Olympic Qualifying Tournament. With the Australian inclusion in the women's qualifying tournament, coupled the Aussie men being ranked lower than New Zealand, ensured both teams would not have a chance at qualifying for Tokyo.

As the top 4 teams in the FIBA 3x3 Federation Ranking in the women’s category, Russia, China, Mongolia and Romania all automatically qualified for the Olympics, where 3x3 will make its first appearance on July 25-29. Serbia, Russia and China are the top 3 teams in the men’s category, together with the Japanese hosts, will join them in the Aomi Urban Sports Park in the waterfront Aomi district for the much-anticipated event. The remaining 20 men's and women's nations left in contention will fight for 3 spots each in March.

Behind the efforts of Asian Cup MVP Bec Cole who was joined by Alice Kunek, Keely Froling and Maddie Garrick, Australia went close to a medal at the FIBA 3x3 World Cup in June. A heartbreaking overtime loss to China in the semi final saw them take on France in the playoff for bronze before finishing fourth.

The Aussie women will enter the Olympic Qualification Tournament as the lowest ranked Federation, with Iran at 6 the highest ranked nation in Group B. They have been pooled with Asian rivals Japan (11th), Ukraine (14th) and Turkmenistan (22nd) to compete in India next March.

With a successful recent history in the shorter form of the game over recent years, Australia's women will like their chances of securing a historic Olympic berth.