Courtesy of Courtnay Pilypaitis, the Canadian Women’s Team will be making its first appearance at the Olympics since Sydney 2000. The former Vermont standout put together an impressive offensive and defenseive effort putting up 21 points and six assists in the final game of the 2012 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament for Women in Ankara, Turkey, to lead Canada to a 71-63 win over Japan and the final remaining berth at the 2012 London Olympics.
Turkey and Croatia made history Friday as each nation earned its first-ever Olympic berth in women’s basketball at the 2012 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament for Women in Ankara, Turkey. France and the Czech Republic, both heavy favorites to make the Olympic field coming into the tournament, did not disappoint as they, too, secured their Olympic berths by winning their quarterfinal matches Friday.
Obviously Olga Vigil does. The 5-8, 143-pound Cuban guard was called for a second half charge after a defensive stand by 5-9, 155-pound Irina Sumnikova, a 31-year-old Russian veteran. Vigil then got into it with Yevgeniya Nikonova -- and after they were separated, blindsided Sumnikova with a hard right hand.
That United States 56-game winning streak? Trivia. China's silver medal in 1992? Ancient history. Ukraine's early-round Olympic struggles? Yesterday's news.
After five games in Atlanta that eliminated four of the 12 teams, it takes three more wins to get the gold. A loss in the first single-elimination round means no medal, a loss in the second means the bronze is the best that can be done, and a loss in the third means silver, not the top prize.
The picture is starting to come into focus. The Brazilians and Americans are definite gold medal contenders. Ukraine, China and Russia look like pretenders. Australia and Italy have yet to be tested -- but will be July 25.
Upsets? Not really. Surprises? Not many. Close games? Not even that.
The first day of the 1996 Olympics followed the form charts to the point of boredom in women's basketball. The narrowest margin of victory was nine points, and the largest was 17 -- which came in pre-Games' favorite America's 101-84 win over Cuba.