Canada’s 3×3 basketball team opened its title defense in the Women’s Series final with three straight victories Saturday in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
A balanced attack and strong field goals (69 percent) contributed to a 22-17 victory over the host team in the first game and propelled the Canadians past France (16-14) and Germany (21-13) in Group A. action.
Michelle and Katherine Plouffe, Kacie Bosch and Paige Crozon have secured a spot in the semifinals and will play either Germany or the United States on Sunday at 4 a.m. ET. China also went 3-0 and will face France or Neftchi of Azerbaijan in the other semifinal at 4:25 am. The final is scheduled for 5:20 am.
The Canadians entered the bottom third of the season standings with 725 points, behind second-place Neftchi of Azerbaijan (831) and ahead of fourth-place France (720).
However, Canada has more tournament wins than any other team (five) despite playing in five fewer events than Neftchi and France.
Against Mongolia, the Canadians never led by more than four points until Crozon made it 15-10 with 4:45 left in the 10-minute game.
But Mongolia immediately closed the gap with a two-point shot from Khulan Onolbaatar.
Crozon stands out with a triple
Mongolia pulled within 16-14 with 4:19 left after Indra Ulzibat’s double, but Canada stayed strong and finished the match (the first team with 21 points) with a deuce from Crozon to make the score 22-17.
SEE | Complete coverage of Canada vs. Mongolia:
The Humboldt, Sask., native led her team with seven points. The Plouffe sisters added six points each and Bosch three.
Neither Canada nor France had more than a two-point lead in the second game for either team.
Tied 12-12, Michelle Plouffe made a pair of free throws with 1:44 left, but France tied it, thanks to Laetitia Guapo and Marie Mane.
Michelle Plouffe jumped the game with two seconds left with a double. She had a game-high nine points, while Katherine added four points and eight rebounds, the most of any player.
SEE | Complete coverage of Canada vs. France:
Canada handed Germany its second loss of the day, hitting 8 of 11 (73 percent) from the field and making all three of its free throws.
While the Canadians never trailed in the game, they didn’t pull away until midway through the game, when the Plouffes split six points on a run to take a 14-8 lead with 4:24 left.
5 season titles
Luana Rodefeld cut the deficit to 15-12, but Canada finished the game with 2:37 to spare, scoring the final five points, courtesy of Michelle Plouffe. She racked up 11 points and six rebounds, both game highs.
SEE | Complete coverage of Canada vs. Germany:
Two weeks ago, the Canadiens won in Montreal for their fifth title of the season, capping a 15-0 home record that also included wins in Edmonton and Quebec.
Next summer they want to climb to the top of the podium at the Paris Olympic Games.
“That’s why we started, that’s why we’re still here, to have that goal,” Katherine Plouffe of Edmonton told The Canadian Press. “It will be very special when we get there.”
First, they will need to qualify, something they didn’t get the chance to do when 3×3 basketball made its Olympic debut at the 2021 Tokyo Games.
The sisters have played at the Olympics in five-on-five games, but in 3×3 a baffling rules combination limited Canada to sending only one team of one gender to the Tokyo qualifying tournament.
Canada Basketball finally sent the men, who had not had a five-on-five team at the Games since 2000.