Edmonton team represents Canada at Olympic 3×3 qualifying tournament this week

Steve Sir started playing in FIBA 3×3 tournaments in 2016. Today, he’s playing for Team Canada with a chance to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics.

The Edmontonian is joined by fellow Albertans Kyle Landry and Jordan Jensen-Whyte and Ontario’s Alex Johnson on the Canadian squad.

The Olympic qualifying tournament began on Wednesday and continues through Sunday in Graz, Austria with 20 men’s teams competing for three spots at the Games this summer when the sport makes its debut.

“There’s a feeling of some relief that we got here, everybody can play and can go forward with it, but more than anything, just raw excitement,” Sir said.

The Canadian team is ranked 13th and will be in a tough pool with Netherlands (third), Latvia (fifth), Croatia (12th), and host Austria (20th) also in the tournament.

Sir, 38, previously played for Saskatoon before he put together an Edmonton team. He spent the last few years with that squad, entering FIBA tournaments around the world, with each result impacting its ranking.

He credits the sacrifices and support from his and his teammates’ families for allowing them to travel to events around the world and eventually make it to the qualifying tournament.

A ticket to the Tokyo Olympics for the debut of the sport would be even sweeter, he said.

“It would be a dream come true. It’s difficult to express properly how much this means,” Sir said.

“When the Olympics were first announced for 3×3, myself and my wife specifically said, we can do this. We can get there with the right group and the right focus and the right effort and support behind it.” 

Canada’s 3×3 basketball team practices in Graz, Austria, at the Olympic qualifying tournament. (Steve Sir)

Local efforts to get Canada on the 3×3 map

The Alberta Basketball Association has been focused on 3×3 since FIBA announced it would become an official international sport around 2011.

Paul Sir, managing director of Canada Basketball’s 3×3 program and Steve’s father, believed the sport was evolving and would eventually become an Olympic event.

The organization has hosted tournaments with international teams from the men’s and women’s world circuit, with assistance from the City of Edmonton and Alberta Tourism.

For Paul Sir, it’s gratifying to watch the Canadian team linked to Edmonton with a chance to make it on the world stage. 

“It would mean a lot because of the commitment that all of us — in Edmonton in particular and in Alberta Basketball —have made to this,” Paul Sir said.

“It’s a well-deserved outcome of a lot of dedication over a long period of time. Good for these guys and good for Canada.”

Canada plays in four pool games that will dictate the quarterfinals. It’s first game is at 10:40 MT on Thursday. The knockout rounds will take place on Sunday.

“Hopefully with the things we’ve been doing and the work that’s been put in, we can do the extraordinary because we’ve just been working on the ordinary,” Steve Sir said. 

The Olympic qualifying men’s and women’s tournament will be live streamed on CBC Sports.

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