After the conclusions of three different FIBA sponsored tournaments last week, Australian men and women’s teams and Canadian women’s team have qualified for basketball in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. In the two-legged FIBA Oceania Championship matches played in Australia and New Zealand, the men and women’s teams scored victories over New Zealand in both legs and entered their names among 12 qualifiers in men and women’s basketball categories. The Canadian women emerged the winners of the 2015 Americas Women’s Championship and they also booked their place for the 2016 Rio Olympics Games.
Australian women played two matches on home-and-away basis in the annual FIBA Oceania women’s Championship, which also served as Olympic qualifications. In the first match played at the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne on August 15, 2015, Australian women defeated New Zealand 61-41 to take a big lead before their away game at the New Zealand city of Tauranga on August 17. In the Melbourne game, Tessa Lavey was the star with 9 points, 11 rebounds and 5 assists. Lavey’s scintillating performance was nicely complimented by Suzy Batkovic, who came up with 16 points and 7 bounds. For New Zealand, Micaela Cocks, Natalie Taylor and Chevannah fought hard but couldn’t prevent the Australians from winning the match. In the second match at Tauranga, veteran Suzy Batkovic and Laura Hodges led Australia to a 80-63 win. Hodges scored 22 points with 5 rebounds while Batkovic scored 17 also with 5 rebounds. New Zealand did their best but fell short regardless as Australia qualified for 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
The 23rd edition of FIBA Oceania Championship for men also assumed added significance this year since the two-legged tournament served as a Rio Olympic qualification pedestal. Australia and New Zealand were the only two teams and like their women counterparts, they played two matches at Melbourne and Wellington. In the first match at Melbourne on August 15, Australia defeated New Zealand 71-59 despite a huge scare created by New Zealand’s Corey Webster. Australia’s Matthew Dellavedova made the crucial difference in the second quarter. Overall, Dellavedova scored 15 points with 5 rebounds and 4 assists and he was supported by Patty Mills and David Andersen, both of whom tallied 17 points each in Australia’s victory. In the second match at Wellington on August 18, Australia fought hard against a spirited challenge by the Kiwis and won the game 89-79. For Australia, Dellavedova and David Andersen once again played key roles with 14 and 11 points respectively and additional support came from Andrew Bogut and Cam Bairstow, who added 10 points apiece. The victory ensured that Australian men’s team would go to Rio with their women folks.
In the FIBA Americas Championship for women, 10 nations took part in the tournament played at Edmonton during August 8-16, 2015. The teams were divided in two Groups, A and B and they played league matches in a single round-Robin format. Canada topped the Group A ahead of Cuba and the two teams entered the knock-out phase. Puerto Rico, Chile and Dominican Republic were the other Group A teams. In Group B, Argentina finished on top followed by Brazil and progressed to the play-off phase. The other Group B teams were; Venezuela, Ecuador and US Virgin Islands. In the semifinals, Canada defeated Brazil 83-66 and Cuba beat Argentina 89-79. Brazil’s defeat didn’t mean much since they had already qualified because of their host nation status. In the final Canadian women beat their Cuban counterparts 82-66 and booked their spot at 2016 Rio Games. In women’s basketball at Rio Olympics, Canada and Australia join Brazil, USA and Serbia while Australian men join Brazil and USA as qualified teams.