Canberra trio launch Olympic three-on-three bid in Mongolia

Sarah McAppion thought all of her basketball dreams were crushed when just getting out of bed was a struggle.

The former Canberra Capital and United States college guard was battling constant pain from a back injury as her hope of playing for Australia slipped away.

But a rejuvenated body and a twist in her basketball journey could pave the way for McAppion to chase an unexpected Olympic Games berth in Tokyo.

McAppion has been picked to play alongside fellow Canberra juniors Issie Bourne and Carlie Smith at a three-on-three tournament in Mongolia.

The International Olympic Committee has ratified three-on-three as a new Olympic sport set to make its debut at Tokyo in 2020.

Former Capitals star Chantella Perera will join the Canberra trio in Mongolia with WNBL players unavailable for selection.

McAppion, 27, took a 12 month break from basketball last year when a bulging disc in her lower back limited her to 30-minute training sessions.

So three-on-three could be the perfect solution in a shortened version of the sport.

"When I went to play at Bendigo, I couldn't get out of bed halfway through the season. That's when I decided to [come home to Canberra] and I couldn't do it any more," McAppion said.

"The physios were working on my every day but I wasn't making any progress. But the year off was great.

"I was ready to hang up my boots. The only two goals I set that I never achieved was playing in Europe and playing at an Olympics.

"They were both out of reach. But I was talking to our coach and he said why not aim for Tokyo now [in three-on-three].

"I haven't thought too much about it. But if I go really well, it could reignite my career. That would be weird at the age I am now."

Basketball Australia will send a men's and women's team to Ulaanbaatar for a tournament on October 27-29.

The women will play against Chinese Taipei and Kazakhstan in pool A, with the top two teams from four pools advancing to the quarter-finals.

Canberra boasts the only specialist three-on-three basketball courts in Australia after Basketball ACT built a $1 million facility at Belconnen.

It gives Canberra's basketball contingent a perfect chance to fine-tune their skills before chasing Olympic qualification.

Smith is now playing for the Bendigo Lady Braves while teenager Bourne is at the Centre of Excellence at the AIS.

McAppion, a former Australian under-19 representative, is just happy to be chasing a new goal after fearing she would never get the chance to play senior international competitions.

"The last time I played for Australia was 11 years ago and now I get to do it again," McAppion said.

"It is exciting to think about that. There are so many tournaments as well ... Basketball Australia is being pushed to get more involved because you have to win points and qualify for the Olympics.

"There could be more opportunities if I play well enough. Three-on-three has a few different rules and is faster, which might suit a different sort of athlete.

"I just see it as an opportunity and I'm excited for it."

This story Canberra trio launch Olympic three-on-three bid in Mongolia first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.