BELEM (Brazil) – Belem’s FIBA Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament is headed for a Super Sunday, with a couple of breathtaking games that will determine what other 2 nations will join Australia at the 2024 Olympic Games.
Anything and everything can happen, and you can find more information on the permutations HERE.
Tournament records: Australia (2-0) defeated Brazil and Germany in their first 2 games and already clinched their spot in Paris 2024.
Meanwhile, Serbia is 1-1 after narrowly losing to Germany (66-73) on Thursday and beating Brazil (72-65) in a dramatic matchup on Saturday night.
Last meeting: The two teams have already met at the biggest stage of the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup 2022 in Sydney during the Group Phase. The Opals emerged victorious 69-54 in an all-around performance from the home team.
However, Serbia did get the best of Australia, 78-71, at the 2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup Qualifying Tournament in Belgrade, with Yvonne Anderson leading the charge with a 30-point explosion.
Key matchups: The paint battles between Dragana Stankovic, Angela Dugalic and Ivana Raca on one side and Cayla George, Lauren Jackson and Ezi Magbegor on the other have the potential to be epic.
Australia have the deeper roster but may give more playing time to their young guns like Isobel Borlase, Jade Melbourne and Stephanie Reid. Even if that happens, Serbia shouldn’t let their guard down, as the next crop of Australian stars looks as promising as ever.
X-factor: Saturday made it clear that Serbia will go as far as Anderson will take them. The 33-year-old point guard scored 30 points with 8 rebounds and 3 steals against Brazil and looked utterly dominant. And with a similar game against Australia already on her resume, she could be the one tipping the scales.
Stats don’t lie: Serbian shooters need to rediscover their accuracy and do it fast. Marina Maljkovic’s squad shot 6/27 against Germany and 2/18 against Brazil. That level of production won’t cut it against the best team in the tournament, so keep an eye early on Anderson, Dugalic and Jovana Nogic.
Meanwhile, through 2 games, Australia is leading the tournament in points per game (72.5), field goal percentage (42.4), three-point percentage (36.0), free throw percentage (84.0), blocks (5.5) and steals (9.5).
Did you know? A win would allow Serbia to qualify for their third consecutive Olympic Games, after making the tournament in Rio and Tokyo, and the chance to seek their second medal after a bronze in 2016).
Australia qualified for their eighth consecutive Games and tenth overall, but after winning 5 consecutive medals between 1996 and 2012, they haven’t reached the semifinals in more than a decade.
Tournament records: Germany is 1-1 after defeating Serbia (73-66) on Thursday and losing to Australia (52-85) on Saturday,
Brazil (0-2) are the only remaining winless team in the tournament but narrowly escaped being eliminated on Saturday by keeping their losing margin against Serbia to just 7 points.
Last meeting: With Germany largely absent from intercontinental competition during the last couple of decades, the last head-to-head matchup between these teams was the Women’s World Cup in 1998.
On that occasion, Brazil prevailed, 77-73, despite Germany hosting the event.
Key matchups: The inside battle between Kamilla Cardoso and Nyara Sabally could be one for the ages.
Cardoso produced an efficient double-double (16 points and 10 rebounds) on Saturday against Serbia but still lacks a signature game in the tournament.
The younger Sabally sister dropped 14 points, 17 rebounds and 3 blocks in the crucial game against Serbia on Thursday.
Damiris Dantas vs. Leonie Fiebich is another duel to keep an eye on, as their teams tend to go as they do.
X-factor: Satou Sabally suffered a separated shoulder late in the first half of Germany’s game against Serbia on Thursday, but played through the pain and willed her country to victory with a pair of tough buckets down the stretch.
She sat on Saturday against Australia and was seen on the sidelines wearing a sling, but hasn’t been ruled out and may try to play on Sunday, increasing Germany’s odds exponentially.
Stats don’t lie: Brazil dodged being eliminated by a point on a last-second, missed Serbian free throw on Saturday and now need to beat Germany on Sunday by at least 8 points to not have to depend on the outcome of the earlier Australia-Serbia game.
Germany could clinch with a win against Brazil but could also afford to lose as long as Australia beats Serbia in the first game, and they keep their losing margin against Brazil to 6 points or fewer.
Again, check out the complete details of who needs to win and how HERE.
Did you know? If Germany were to finish in the Top 3, they would not only qualify for the Olympic Games for the first time in history, but it would also be their first time earning their way to a women’s basketball competition at the global stage since their only World Cup appearance was when they hosted the event in 1998.