March 12, 2023
Continental rivalries headline 2023 3×3 World Cup Pools
France, Netherlands and Spain, as well as the USA and Canada, will face off in qualifying rounds
On March 8, FIBA released final four preliminary round pools for the 2023 3×3 World Cup, which will run from May 30 – June 6 in Vienna, Austria.
Medaling in the World Cup is one of eight ways a national team can qualify for one of three Olympic Qualifying Tournaments (OQTs), which take place throughout 2024. The top three ranked federations, along with five teams from across the three OQTs, will qualify for the Olympics in Paris. As of publication, France, Germany, and the United States would be the top three auto-qualified teams.
The remaining spots in Groups B, C, and D will be taken by the top three teams out of the World Cup Qualifying Tournament (WCQT), which will take place from May 6–7 in Eilat, Israel. The World Cup Qualifier will feature the Czech Republic, Australia, and Madagascar in Group A, as well as Israel, Switzerland, and Colombia in Group B.
|POOL A||POOL B||POOL C||POOL D|
With the WNBA season kicking off on May 19, it remains to be seen whether summer Team USA regulars Lexie Hull, NaLyssa Smith, and Veronica Burton will take the half-court. Even if they don’t suit up for the national team, however, there are plenty of experienced players Team USA can pull from. 2023 AmeriCup Team of the Tournament member Camille Zimmerman and Louisville’s Hailey Van Lith, who played in the 2022 World Cup, as well as any combination of players out of Force 10’s program, would be prime candidates. As with previous teams USA has fielded, however, lack of playing time in a competition scenario may continue to present challenges against teams that have been competing for multiple years.
Pool A: The triple threat and rivalries galore
With 3×3 powerhouse France, as well as 2022 Europe Cup silver medalists Netherlands and a top-five ranked team in Spain, Pool A is sure to be an all-out battle. All three headlining teams have significant history, from playing against each other in last year’s World Cup, as well as in European zone qualifiers throughout the last year. After losing to France in last year’s Europe Cup final, Netherlands have particular reason to go after France in the preliminary rounds. Add in Brazil, who nearly toppled North American powerhouse Canada in the 2023 AmeriCup, and fans will be in for quite the show.
Based on their sheer dominance of the 3×3 field in 2021–22, Team France should be the favorites in the group, as they look to defend their 2022 World Cup title. But with Spain and the Netherlands each ranking in the top 10, Pool A’s preliminary rounds will likely be as tough as any playoff game.
Pool B: Top teams try new opponents
No. 2 ranked Germany headlines the group, but with No. 9 Poland and No. 10 Japan in the mix, as well as 2022 Africa Cup champions Egypt, Pool B will hardly be a walk in the park. Despite losing to Indonesia in the 3rd place game of the 2022 Asia Cup, Japan played the second-fastest game of the tournament, defeating Sri Lanka by a whopping 22–3 in the quarterfinal round. Egypt won all but one game in the Africa Cup by hitting the 21-point mark, making them formidable opponents in an already tight group.
Pool C: The North American rivalry continues
After dropping a nail-biting two-point loss to Canada in the 2023 AmeriCup earlier this year, it’s only fitting that the top two North American teams would face off in the preliminary rounds of the World Cup. While Team USA’s roster remains a mystery, Team Canada will more than likely feature two of 3×3’s household names, sisters Michelle and Katherine Plouffe. Canada dominated the Women’s Series tournament, losing just three of 28 games played, and coming away with the championship final over France. Team USA will need to pull together its best if they want a chance at redemption over Canada.
Pool D: A bronze-medal rematch
After a thrilling end to last year’s World Cup, top teams Lithuania and China are in for a rematch of the third-place game. Last year, Team China put up a dominating, 21–11 victory, behind a perfect 6-for-6 shooting performance from Ji Yuan Wan. It was the third-fastest game in the women’s tournament, and a sore loss for a Lithuanian team that had performed well up until that point.
Should Australia draw into Pool D out of the qualifying tournaments, the competition will become all the fiercer, as the gold and silver medal teams from the 2022 Asia Cup (China and Australia respectively) will face off for a spot in the playoffs.
WCQT Pool A: Strength on all sides
With the reigning Asia and Africa Cup silver medalists in Australia and Madagascar respectively, whoever emerges from Pool A will have as good a shot as any at the gold medal. The Czech Republic, who’ve been slowly re-building their roster since a couple of successful circuit runs in 2015–17, aren’t to be counted out either.
Despite losing a quick 21–11 match to the Africa Cup’s overwhelming favorite, Egypt, it was one of just two losses Madagascar suffered through the tournament. They battled a stacked team out of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to advance to the final, limiting top-scorer Deborah Kaba Mayimona to just four points. Despite having just one player in the top 10 of all scorers at the Africa Cup, Madagascar’s tough defense was instrumental in getting them to the final. With the World Cup bid just in sight, they could present a significant challenge to opponents once again.
The Australian women have been largely absent from the 3×3 circuit since 2019 and failed to qualify for the 2022 World Cup. But, after earning a silver medal at the last Asia Cup, where they dropped a close final match, 10–14, to a stacked Team China, an Aussie resurgence in 3×3 could very well be in the cards. Their World Cup hopes will largely depend on who they’re able to bring to the tournament — with Anneli Maley signing a training camp contract with the Chicago Sky, the likelihood that she’ll make an appearance is scant at best. Nebraska forward Isabelle Bourne, who led the team to gold at the 2017 Asia Cup, and/or Southside Flyers off-ball guard Rebecca Cole, who was instrumental to Australia’s two World Cup appearances in 2017 and 2019, would bring much-needed experience to what we can only assume will be a fairly inexperienced roster.
The return of 2016 World Cup gold medalists Czech Republic, who haven’t made an appearance since 2019. But, the team has been busy in the Women’s Series tournament, placing 14th out of 31 overall in last year’s edition, and ending up as high as 6th in both the Prague and Quebec stops. With three players under 24 years old headlining their 3×3 rosters, the Czech Republic have been gradually stepping back into their glory days — qualifying for the 2022 World Cup would certainly be the cherry on top.
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WCQT Pool B: Anyone’s ticket
Pool B should be considerably less dramatic, though Colombia’s strong performance at the 2023 Americup could present a challenge to tournament hosts Israel, the likely favorite out of the three teams. At the Americup, Colombia would take eventual silver-medalists Brazil through the full 10 minutes in the semifinals, losing by just seven. They would also force bronze-medalists USA to play the full time, ultimately taking just a four-point loss to a team that included two of the top-four scorers in the tournament.
Switzerland haven’t shown significant progress since a couple of good showings in 2019, though playing through the qualifying tournament should be good experience for what’s likely going to be a younger, inexperienced team. Israel, while not runaway favorites, will have a home-court advantage, as well as the help of a couple top 150 players, which neither Switzerland nor Colombia has.
Written by Isabel Rodrigues
Isabel Rodrigues (she/her) is a contributing writer for The Next from upstate New York who regularly covers 3x3 and the state of women's basketball in the U.S. and internationally.