Wednesday, August 31, 2011
2011 FIBA Americas Tournament Gets Underway
Since the USA men won the 2010 FIBA world title in Turkey last summer and qualified for the Games in the process, they and Coach K get the luxury of watching everybody else on the planet play as they take their time deciding who will be on the USA Olympic roster when the tournament tips off on July 28.
But everyone else who wants to be in London besides the defending Olympic champion and FIBA world number one ranked USA and host nation Great Britain will have to play their way into one of those nine remaining tournament spots.
FIBA Africa Champion Tunisia pulled off a huge upset against perennial African champ Angola 67-58 on Sunday to punch their first ever Olympic basketball ticket. The silver medalist Angolans and bronze medalist Nigerians will get a final opportunity just before the Games commence to qualify at the FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament July 2-8 in which the final three spots in the men's tournament will be up for grabs.
Speaking of spots up for grabs, the FIBA Europe Championship gets started in basketball mad Lithuania today and runs until September 18 with two Olympic berths for the taking and their third, fourth, fifth and sixth place finishers heading to the Qualifying tournament.
The USA handling its basketball business also meant we didn't have to play in the FIBA Americas Championship like we had to do in 2003 and 2007 to qualify for the Athens and Beijing Olympics. That ten team tournament started yesterday and will run through September 11 in Mar del Plata, Argentina.
The 2004 Olympic champion and 2008 bronze medalist Argentinians have every intention of making the home folks happy by taking one of those spots for themselves..
Sixteen NBA ballers will play for seven of the ten national teams participating in this tournament. The way the NBA lockout negotiations are going, this might end up being one of those rare opportunities to see NBA players dribbling on somebody's court.
The tournament draw was held back on January 27 and in Group A we have the Dominican Republic, Brazil, Venezuela, Cuba and Canada. Group B is comprised of FIBA number three world ranked Argentina, Puerto Rico, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Panama
In case you're wondering Canadian readers, Team Canada starts FIBA Americas Group A play in a few hours with a game against the Tiago Splitter led Brazilians, then on September 1 faces the Dominican Republic and its trio of NBA players in Al Horford, Charlie Villanueva and Francisco Garcia. Canada then plays Cuba on September 2 and finishes up group play September 3 with the Grievis Vazquez led Venezuelans
But one thing that puzzled me was why isn't Tristan Thompson, Corey Joseph or Dwight Powell playing on this squad?
The group play phase will run through September 3 with top four teams in each group going to the quarterfinal round and playing against each other which will run from September 5-8.
After the quarterfinal round the top four teams will proceed to the knockout round on September 10-11 to determine who gets the two Olympic berths alloted to the Americas The third, fourth and fifth place teams in the FIBA Americas Championship will play in the Olympic Qualifying tourney next summer
Should be interesting to watch.
TransGriot Note: Corey Joseph is playing on the Canadian FIBA Americas squad.