It is not good that in the Olympic qualifying tournament the final round matches are not played at the same time. There is an opportunity to play tricks. But what should we do if there is only one hall available for the teams, as was the case in Sopron, where before the last round the four teams had one win and one loss.
For us Hungarians, the equation was simple: if Canada beat Japan at 3 p.m., we could even beat the Spaniards, and we would still get third place and thus a plane ticket to Paris. As you know, in this case we would have tied with Japan with one win and two losses, but since we had already beaten the Asians, the result of the head-to-head matches were in our favour.
That's why we had to support Canada, but compared to that, the Japanese led 10-6, then 28-24, and even 38-29 against the North American team, which defended poorly and had a huge advantage in height. At the end of the first half, the score was 50-46 in their favor, and Canada had twenty minutes left to fight for a positive result for us, and of course for themselves, i.e. victory.
After the break, a completely different Canadian team came out on the court, taking a 52-50 lead in two and a half minutes. Came the crowd's voice, and the Hungarian spectators cheered Canada loudly. But to no avail, the third quarter also ended with Japan leading, as the final ten minutes began with a score of 70-67. Then the Asians led 75-69 against the Canadians, who were completely out of shape under the leadership of a Spanish coach. With four and a half minutes left, Canada tied the score at 79-79, but there was only two minutes remaining when Japan took the lead again, 83-79. The Canadians piled up fouls and started twice, losing the game 86-82.
Thus, Japan withdraws from the Olympic Games, taking Spain with it, and we must defeat the Spaniards in the final match of the tournament.
Otherwise, it will be Japan, Spain and Canada in the Olympics as we lost to Canada in the first match.
Result of Olympic qualifiers, third round:
Japan-Canada 86-82 (20–20, 30–26, 20–21, 16–15)
(Cover image: MTI)