Coach Lisa Thomaidis is hoping that home-court advantage and some control in Tuesday's qualifying draw will help her team avoid that happening again.
"It was crazy," Thomaidis said. "I think there was maybe a 10-day turnaround when we qualified on July 1, came home for maybe a week, got back together and it was: 'Whoa, we're going to London.'
"It was fantastic and we were certainly riding an emotional high, but the preferred method is to be able to do it a year out, in terms of your preparation, your scheduling, but also for this team and this program, the exposure that we would get having a full year ahead of the Olympics. Knowing that this team is going (to Rio) would be huge."
Edmonton will host the FIBA Americas Olympic qualifying tournament this summer, and as host the Canadians chose which pool they'll play in during Tuesday's draw at Edmonton's city hall. The Canadians picked Group A and will face the Dominican Republic, Chile, Puerto Rico, and — most importantly — Cuba in the qualifier.
"We wanted to play in the same pool as Cuba. So as far as being able as the host to have a bit of control over where we were placed was great," Thomaidis said from Edmonton. "There's no free passes to the Olympics, you're going to have to beat everyone, and you're going to have to beat good teams, and that's the way it should be."
With the United States and Brazil already securing their spots in the 2016 Rio Olympics — the U.S. as World Cup champions, Brazil as the host — No. 13-ranked Cuba poses the biggest threat to the Canadians (No. 10) in the qualifying event. Facing the Cubans in the round-robin portion means not facing them again until the final.
Group B has Argentina, Venezuela, unranked U.S. Virgin Islands, Ecuador, and Brazil.
Canada must finish first, or second to Brazil, at the FIBA Americas tournament to earn a spot in the Olympics. Otherwise, they'll face the same long route they took four years earlier, when they defeated Japan in their final game of a second-chance qualifying tournament on July 1 to book the last spot up for grabs in London.
The Canadians have some history with Cuba, having lost to them in the last two Olympic qualifying tournaments.
"They're definitely a rival, they came out on top for the last FIBA Americas, so now it's time for us to exact our revenge," Thomaidis said.
Having home-court advantage against a fierce rival could be a deciding factor.
"Any time you're in familiar surroundings and able to play in front of friends and family in a facility that you've been training in for the last few years, I think it's always a big help," Thomaidis said. "So we'll take any small advantage we can get, whether it be real or imagined or psychological or whatever. So we're looking forward to it."
Canada, which is coming off a fifth place finish at last summer's World Cup, will use the Pan American Games in Toronto as a tuneup for the qualifier — Thomaidis said she hopes to field identical rosters for both international tournaments.
Saville Community Sports Centre, which is home base for Canada's women's team, will host the tournament, Aug. 9-16. Hamilton hosted the 1995 tournament, where Canada won gold.Suggest a correction