How Australia Can Qualify For 3×3 Basketball At 2020 Olympics

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics are fast approaching, meaning 3×3 basketball is getting closer to making its debut on the world’s biggest sporting stage.

Australia has enjoyed a strong 2019 campaign in international 3×3 competitions, with the women finishing fourth in the FIBA 3×3 World Cup, while both the men and women won gold at this year’s FIBA 3×3 Asia Cup.

While these are excellent achievements and displays growth for the discipline in Australia, what does it actually mean for the nation’s hopes at achieving Olympic success?

Eight teams will compete at the Olympics in 3×3 basketball.

Four positions (or three depending on host country rank) have been reserved for the top ranked 3×3 nations in the FIBA 3×3 Federation Ranking as of November 1, 2019.

Note: If the host country (Japan) has no team qualified based on the Federation Ranking, then FIBA will grant them one automatic spot (men or women, depending which one ranks higher).

At the moment, Australia’s women rank 22nd in the world. This might seem bizarre considering they just finished fourth at the World Cup, but FIBA’s system is underpinned by ranking points, which “rewards the elite performances of the players but also the 3×3 activity in the territory of each National Federation”. For clarity, the Federation Ranking is calculated by adding up the ranking points of the Top 100 players in the country.

This is what hurts Australia’s ranking, as the country is still new to the 3×3 game and doesn’t yet have the volume of events and players compared to European and Asian countries.

Russia is the top ranked women’s team with 8,794,082 points – Australia has 1,262,203 points – which displays how far behind the Aussies are.

The situation is grimmer for the Australian men, who are 34th in the world with 4,989,025 points. Serbia, the top ranked federation, has 35,367,650 points.

According to FIBA, the points are calculated daily, so technically there is the slimmest of chances Australia can somehow conjure up enough points to climb into the top four by November 1, but even if they don’t, there will be another way to qualify for Tokyo.

The other half of the tickets to Tokyo 2020 will be allocated at two different Olympic Qualifying Tournaments (OQT).

Australia will not be eligible to compete in the second and final qualifying tournament (where one ticket in each gender is available) in April 2020, this event is reserved to countries who have not been represented in basketball in the past two Olympics (2012 and 2016). The rationale for this is that 3×3 was also created to bring new countries to basketball.

That leaves six spots (three in each gender) remaining and this is where things get interesting for Australia. These positions will be filled at next March’s Olympic Qualifying tournament.

This is where Australia’s World Cup results could prove costly. The three medallists at the World Cup advanced to this OQT. Unfortunately the women finished fourth while the men ended 10th.

The only pathway to the March 2020 OQT is the Federation Rankings.

Twenty teams per gender are eligible to participate in this OQT:

  1. The OQT hosts (The hosts’ men’s and women’s teams will be eligible to play, regardless of ranking).
  2. The three medallists of the FIBA 3×3 World Cup 2019 (to clarify: if one of the three World Cup medallists in the women’s category make it to the Olympics directly, it means only two teams will make it to the OQT based on their performance at the World Cup. Australia, as fourth at the World Cup, is not in line to make it to the OQT if a medallist makes it to the Olympics directly).
  3. The 16 highest ranked countries in the Federation Ranking List on 1 November 2019 not yet qualified to the Olympic Games (the OQT has a maximum of 10 teams per gender from the same continent).

(Note: Of that final 16, a country can only have both genders qualify if their men’s and women’s team rank inside the top six of that 16. If not, only one gender will qualify – the highest ranked one).

If the cut-off date were today, Australia’s women would make it to the March 2020 FIBA 3×3 Olympic Qualifying Tournament (because some better-ranked countries would either make it directly to the Olympics or could not compete at the OQT based on the above-mentioned criteria).

The men – who rank lower – would not.

This said, the cut-off date is still four months away, which is a lot of time for a lot of countries to climb up the Federation Rankings. Australian athletes will need to continue playing in high-level FIBA 3×3 events this year to improve or at least maintain the country’s position in the Federation Rankings.

The top three teams in each gender at the March 2020 OQT will earn a ticket to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, meaning Australia’s Olympic goal is still alive.

More in News