Day 3 of the Tokyo Olympics sees the women’s 5-on-5 basketball tournament get underway and to nobody’s surprise, the six-time defending gold medal winners from the USA are once again heavy favorites.
A dozen teams will be divided into three groups of four. The top two teams from each group will advance, plus two wild-card teams.
Group A has two teams in Serbia and Canada who have both been given an outside shot to end up on the podium. Serbia and Canada will face each other in their opening round-robin game, a game that could very well determine the winner of the group.
South Korea, Spain, Serbia and Canada are the four teams who make up Group A, with most experts believing Serbia and Canada have the best shot at winning the group.
Winning Group A and not just advancing could be extremely important. It is expected that the second-place team will have to face Team USA in the quarterfinal match, something neither Canada nor Serbia wants to do.
Serbia is a -3 (-110) favorite for the match against Canada, a game that both teams will really want to win.
News & Notes
Team Canada is built around their superstar, Kia Nurse. Nurse currently plays for the Phoenix Mercury of the WNBA. She is one of three WNBA players on the Canadian roster, which is expected to be able to score and offer several different matchup looks because of their size and depth.
After losing in the quarterfinals the last two Olympics, the Canadians are focused on a medal this time around and anything less will be looked at as a disappointment.
Last month Serbia surprised a strong France team in the final of the EuroBasket championships and was crowned the best European team with their 63-54 win. The Serbian defence pressured France throughout the game and forced them into 19 turnovers.
Serbia enters Tokyo as the defending bronze medalist. For Serbia to once again end up on the podium, they will most likely need to win Group A and avoid a quarterfinal matchup against the U.S.
Betting Pick: Canada +3 (-120)
Obviously this is a huge game for both teams. Avoiding the U.S. in this tournament for as long as possible is a strategy every team will want to use. Serbia coming in after their European championship win will have a lot of confidence. However, Canada has tasted disappointment the last two times in this tournament and I’m betting they don’t want to make it three in a row. Take Canada plus the 3 points.
This is an interesting wagering opportunity to bet on who the best women’s basketball team in the tournament will be, if you don’t include the heavily favored U.S. squad.
With the tournament starting Sunday night, there is a future bet opportunity that allows you to pick the best Olympic women’s basketball team, excluding Team USA.
Australia has been given the best odds for this bet at +275. But France (+425), Canada (+450), Spain (+450) and Serbia (+600) are also expected to be in the conversation.
The Americans are heavily favored to win their seventh straight gold medal, but trying to pick the next-best team in this tournament could make for a very entertaining couple of weeks as the tournament plays out.
News & Notes
Just over one week ago in a pre-Olympic exhibition game, the Australian women shocked basketball fans everywhere with a 70-67 win over Team USA. Trailing by 13 at the half, the Australians made a huge comeback and beat the Americans for the first time since 2010. With such a big win just before the Olympics, you would expect Australia to play with a lot of confidence in Tokyo.
Serbia knocked off France in the European championships in June, but they still aren’t getting a lot of respect from bookmakers. France is listed at +425 to be the best team (excluding the U.S.) at the Olympics, while the Euro champs from Serbia are listed at +600.
If you are looking for a long shot to be the best of the rest, how about the Chinese women at +1600? The starting frontcourt for China consists of three players who are all six-foot-six or taller, a matchup that will be difficult for almost every other team in the event.
Betting Pick: Australia (+275)
In 2016, the Australian women cruised through the group stage, going 5-0 in the round robin. Unfortunately for the Aussies, in their quarterfinal match against Serbia, they were upset 73-71 and didn’t get a chance to play for a medal.
This time around, it feels different for Australia. Fresh off a stunning upset over Team USA, look for Australia to ride that momentum all tournament long. Whether they can beat Team USA again is to be determined, but they can definitely be the best of the rest.
At the 2016 Olympics, Team USA recaptured their 4 x 100 freestyle glory, when they reclaimed the gold medal, beating second place France by over half a second. Team USA is favored to repeat as gold medal champion again at -200 odds, but this race should be extremely close.
The ROC Team (Russian athletes) is listed at +300 and with their overall depth they should be considered a real threat to Team USA.
News & Notes
For the final 4 x 100 freestyle race in the 2016 Olympics, it was Caeleb Dressel, Michael Phelps, Ryan Held and Nathan Adrian who brought home the gold for the Americans. Adrian swam the anchor leg for Team USA and had the fastest split of anyone in the race.
Five years later in Tokyo, only Dressel returns from that gold medal-winning team. Phelps retired as one of the greatest Olympic athletes ever. Both Held and Adrian failed to qualify. Team USA doesn’t have the depth to rest swimmers during the preliminary races like it once did.
Where Team USA has concerns about their depth, the Russian swimmers for ROC are almost deep enough to field two teams who could contend. At the recent 2021 European championships, ROC swam eight different swimmers in the prelims and finals en route to winning that event.
Betting Pick: Italy +600
Let’s go a little off the board with this pick and take the fastest team from the prelims. Yes, the favored teams always like to save energy for the finals and what happens in the prelim races doesn’t mean it will be repeated in the finals. However, the Italian team was clocked at 3:10.29 to qualify for the finals. The favored Americans checked in with the next-fastest time at 3:11.33, which is over a second slower.
At +600, maybe there is a little bit of value in backing the Italian team for this one.
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