Nine teams have booked their place at the 2012 Olympic Games in London with three spots still up for grabs.
The Olympic Qualifying Tournament will detirmine who gets those final three places as Russia, FYR of Macedonia, Lithuania, Greece, Angola, Nigeria, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, New Zealand, Jordan and Korea will compete in a 12-team event running from the 2nd-8th July at a venue to be announced.
Teams involved in London:
Great Britain – Qualified as hosts, but it was nearly not the case as FIBA challenged the nation’s lack of presence in major basketball events and the legacy of the game in Britain after the Games were over.
But in March 2011, the FIBA board voted 17-3 in favour of Team GB’s involvement with attached conditions involving the sport’s governing structure by resolved by 30th June 2012.
How they will fare in London is anyone’s guess, but a medal placement is far off. Competing in the Olympics for your country will be the biggest honour that these players involved will have. They will not be looking to make-up the numbers.
USA – Won the gold medal at the World Championships in 2010, and due to Great Britain’s involvement pending at the time, were the first nation to qualify for the 2012 Games.
A number of the “stars” skipped the World Championships, but will no doubt be eager to travel to London to retain their Olympic crown. And if LeBron, Kobe, Carmelo and company do make a return, it will take a team playing their A-game and more to dethrone them.
Spain – The Spanish won this year’s Eurobasket, and if the squad stays virtually the same, they will be favoured to be repeating their feat in China four years when they faced the United States in the gold medal game.
Coach Sergio Scariolo was asked whether he had a team able to compete against the USA at the post-final press conference. Scariolo wasn’t answering the question properly, London 2012 is still far-off, who knows.
France – Runners-up at Eurobasket and appearing at their first Olympic Games since winning silver in Sydney, Australia 11-years ago. Tony Parker, not even drafted until a year after has stated that he want to play in London.
You can guess who won gold in 2000, right?
Argentina – Won the FIBA Americas Championship this past Summer in their own backyard after defeating Brazil in the final.
They will be a handful for anyone, especially if players like Manu Ginobili, Luis Scola and Carlos Delfino stay healthy. Definite contender for a medal.
Brazil – Runners-up at the FIBA Americas Championship, but despite defeat to the hosts in the final looked the best side in the tournament and, until the final were undefeated.
Leandro Barbosa didn’t compete in Argentina, and they still walked away with the silver medal. Brazil will no doubt be a different team with the quick combo-guard on court.
Australia – Won the two-team FIBA Oceania group with an 3-0 whitewash victory over neighbours New Zealand.
Challenging for a medal will be difficult for the Boomers, but you can never count them out, they finished second to France at the six-team Olympic Test Event.
Tunisia – The Tunisians upset heavy favourites Angola to win this year’s Afrobasket and qualify for their first ever Olympic Games, an amazing achievement.
Regardless of what group they will end up in, Tunisia are most likely to be the whipping boys of the event, but that will not dampen their spirits from the moment they walk around the Olympic Stadium at the opening ceremony to the time they leave for their homeland. No doubt they will enjoy the experience.
China – Following the shocking departure of Iran were comfortable favourites to win the FIBA Asia Championships, but despite victory, they were made to sweat against Iran’s conquerors Jordan, winning in the end 70-69 to go one better than in 2009.
Despite their victory in the Asia Championships, they will find the Olympics harder than ever, especially now that their hero Yao Ming has retired.