FIBA’s Olympic World Qualifying Tournament is coming to a close tomorrow and there are only four national teams remaining; Croatia, Germany, Greece and Puerto Rico, and only three of those four teams will make the Olympics.
The four teams will play in semi-final action today, and the final game between the today’s losers semifinals will be held tomorrow July 20th to determine the final spot.
After that game, the final three teams will be randomly drawn into their Olympic Groups.
Group A: Argentina, Australia, Iran, Lithuania, Russia + (A)
Group B: Angola, China, Spain, USA + (B and C)
In the first semi-final game, a very strong Croatian team, the strongest in over a decade, will take on tournament leading scorer Dirk Nowitzki, recent naturalized addition Chris Kaman, and Germany. Croatia has yet to defeat Germany in the Nowitzki era; they’ve lost five consecutive games to the Germans. With Nowitzki and the German guards bombing away from three with scary accuracy and the Croatians unique and dangerous combination of national team veterans with energetic newcombers, this matchup promises to be an intense one.
Following the Croatia-Germany game will be the other semi-final match between Greece and Puerto Rico. In the last five matches between PR and Hellas, Greece has four consecutive wins in a row and are looking to continue that streak against the United State’s territory. With the Greek’s homecourt advantage playing in Athens, their spotless record, and average margin of victory of 34 points, it’s going to be a really tough game for Puerto Rico. “Respect to the Greek team is a given fact, but we will do everything in our power to win.” said Puerto Rico’s coach Manuel Cintrón. “We love playing with our back against the wall.” This one will be an intense game for sure.
The winners in both semi-final games will advance to the finals, but more importantly both semi-final winners will have earned a spot in the 2008 Olympic Games.
Rasho says Goodbye to Slovenian National Team
In their loss to Puerto Rico, Slovenia was eliminated from the World Qualifying Tournament and lost the chance at an Olympic berth. It also ended Rasho Nesterovic’s international playing career: “Every athlete dreams of going to the Olympics. It would have been a great honour for me to have seen Slovenia among the 12 teams playing in Beijing but it didn’t come true,” Nesterovic said. “To represent Slovenia has meant a lot to me. It has been a pleasure to be with the group of guys in my team. I have enjoyed every single moment.” Read Rasho’s entire interview…
Tiago Splitter not impressed with Brazilian NBA Players
After Germany eliminated Brazil in their quarterfinal match, Brazilian supertstar Tiago Splitter was asked about NBA players Dirk Nowitzki and Chris Kaman and their significant contributions to Germany, and whether missing Leandro Barbosa, Nene, and Anderson Varejao hurt Brazil’s chances, “I want to clarify something. I don’t believe that all players, who compete at the NBA level, are as good as Nowitzki and Kaman or that their contribution is equally valuable.” said Splitter. “What I would like to say though, is what all the players have agreed since our preparation gathering. We dont want to talk about those who are not with us”. Hm, it seems obvious that Tiago doesn’t think highly of one of more of Brazil’s NBA players, I wonder which player(s) Splitter was referring to?
Links and Resources: Olympic Qualifying Tournament Forum (Interbasket Forum), Rasho says good-bye to international competition (FIBA), Tiago Splitter: Me, myself and…Dirk (FIBA), Germany Olympic Team, Puerto Rico Olympic Team (98)