Italy, Latvia, Mexico book their places in the semi-finals while Puerto Rico play waiting game

Photo: FIBA

As the curtain went down on the first day of play over in Manila, over 9,600 km away in Belgrade and a further 10,500 km away in Turin, the first semi-final spots were being decided in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

And on the second day of action in the European leg of the tournament, Croatia, Mexico, Angola and Czech Republic all got their campaign under way as they all aim to advance to the Rio Olympics, next month.

TURIN:

Hosts Italy booked their spot in the semi-finals as they defeated Croatia 67-60 in a highly charged, physical contest.

With the game tied 35-35 at the half, Italy started slowly in the third but eventually came good as a 9-0 run, mid-way through the period turned the game on its head and ultimately put Croatia away for good.

Marco Belinelli paced Italy with 19 points, but a special mention to Daniel Hackett who added 12 points, pulled down eight rebounds and was instrumental in Italy’s game-changing 9-0 run.

Iran though bowed out of the Rio 2016 running as they lost 75-70 to Mexico, who booked their place into the last four.

The Asian powerhouses exit with a 0-2 record but were extremely unfortunate not to get something out of this game, as they enjoyed a 63-59 lead with 4:00 left and looked to have momentum on their side.

But the Mexicans exploited Iran’s weak perimeter defence and also were able to secure second chance opportunities en route to their victory.

Francisco Cruz led Mexico with 18 points.

BELGRADE:

Latvia were able to secure top spot in Group B and advance to the semi-finals in the Belgrade section with a 71-59 win over the Czech Republic.

In a closely-fought contest, a mix of the Czechs going 11/23 from the foul line plus a strong run from the Latvians in the final three minutes closed the game out and now the Czech Republic needs to beat Japan on Wednesday to qualify as runners up.

Davis Bertans led Latvia with 18 points.

Meanwhile in Group A, Puerto Rico will play the waiting game as their 91-81 victory over Angola means that they will await their fate on Wednesday.

Serbia will face Angola with the latter needing to win to stay alive. A Serbia win however, puts both the Serbs and Puerto Rico through.

JJ Barea and Carlos Arroyo both paced the Puerto Ricans with 18 points.