With Olympic group play now over, that leaves four teams without a spot to advance.
Here’s a recap from Czech Republic, Nigeria, Japan & Iran out in Tokyo.
Results: Win vs. Iran 84-78, Loss vs. France 97-77, Loss vs. USA 119-84
After impressively beating Canada and Greece during the Olympic qualifying tournament, Czech Republic carried that momentum into Tokyo and won their opening game against Iran. Although, the team’s winning ways would end in the next two games in tough matchups vs. France and the United States, resulting in back to back double digit losses.
To even reach Tokyo seemed like a long shot for the club, as they were blown out by Turkey and only defeated Uruguay by one point in the qualifiers. But from there, Czech Republic started to click and played lights out basketball in their next two games to earn a spot in the Olympics. 37-year-old Blake Schilb exploded for 31 points and Tomas Satoransky hit a game winner in overtime vs. Canada, which then followed with a solid all around team effort to beat Greece by 25 in the final. When looking back on their journey to the Olympics, Czech Republic should be very proud of themselves.
Results: Loss vs. Australia 84-67, Loss vs. Germany 99-92, Loss vs. Italy 80-71
Mike Brown’s young Nigeria club was very close to going 2-1 out in Tokyo. Just like Czech Republic, Nigeria came into the Olympics with confidence from their pre-olympic play. The club defeated USA & Argentina in Las Vegas during exhibition matchups and were hoping to earn a medal in the Olympics.
Unfortunately for Nigeria, experience overcame them in all three games and they went 0-3, but the team has a bright future ahead. Nigeria’s leading scorer was soon to be 23-year-old Jordan Nwora, who just came off his rookie year on the Milwaukee Bucks’ championship squad. Nwora averaged 21 PPG in this year’s Olympics, and not to mention new Toronto Raptor Precious Achiuwa also played productive basketball and was just a rookie this season as well.
Results: Loss vs. Spain 88-77, Loss vs. Slovenia 116-81, Loss vs. Argentina 97-77
After defeating Belgium and France in convincing fashion during their exhibition session, there was a possibility Japan could upset a few clubs in Tokyo. However, Japan quickly realized that the Olympics are a different beast, struggling to score & defend and ultimately losing all three group games by double digits.
The play of Rui Hachimura (22.3 PPG) and Yuta Watanabe (17.7 PPG) definitely stood out for Japan, but it was going to take a full team effort from everyone to win and the club simply just didn’t have enough talent on a stage like that to finish out games. NBA pros Luka Doncic, Ricky Rubio and Facundo Campazzo had their way with Japan’s guards, as defense in the backcourt clearly needs to be worked on going forward.
Results: Loss vs. Czech Republic 84-78, Loss vs. USA 120-66, Loss vs. France 79-62
Iran opened up Olympic play against Czech Republic in a hard fought matchup, but lost by six points as both teams knew this was most likely their only chance of winning a game in Tokyo. From there, Iran struggled badly on both sides of the ball in the final two group games vs. USA and France, scoring under 70 points on offense both times and letting up a total of 199 points on defense in back to back losses.
Despite the Iranian national team’s winless record at the Olympics, one thing they can feel accomplished about is the ongoing legendary career of former NBA player Hamed Haddadi. Haddadi is a 4x FIBA Asia Cup MVP who played for the Memphis Grizzlies and Phoenix Suns. At the age of 36, Haddadi averaged 15.7 PPG/9.7 RPG/3.3 APG during the Tokyo Olympics and proved he still has a lot of game left in the tank.