Three European nations grabbed the final quotas in the Men’s Basketball World Olympic Qualification Tournaments. In total three qualification tournaments were held, each containing six teams where they were split into two groups of three where a round robin was played. The top two advanced to the semi-final with the winner of each tournament qualifying to the Olympics. The three tournaments were held from July 4th to July 10th 2016 in Belgrade, Serbia, Manila, Philippines and Turin, Italy respectively.
The first tournament in Serbia had the host nation top Group A with 87-81 and 83-60 victories over Puerto Rico and Angola respectively. Puerto Rico also advanced to the semi-final with a 91-81 victory over Angola. Group B saw Latvia top the group with 88-48 and 71-59 victories over Japan and the Czech Republic respectively. The Czech Republic advanced second in the group after a 87-71 victory over Japan.
The semi-final saw a close match between Latvia and Puerto Rico with Puerto Rico holding a 51-50 lead going into the final quarter. The match was tied with two minutes remaining and still in doubt with 30 seconds left, but late baskets from Puerto Rico gave them the 77-70 victory. In the other match Serbia won in relative ease 96-72. The final saw Serbia starting off very well to the tune of a 37-11 lead at the end of the first quarter. Puerto Rico would never fully recover from that as Serbia would go on to qualify to the Olympics with a 108-77 win.
The second tournament in the Philippines saw Group A’s Canada top the group with two close, but in control victories where they won 77-69 and 58-55 against Turkey and Senegal respectively. Despite a poor third quarter Turkey defeated Senegal 68-62 to advance to the semi-final. In Group B the hosts were met with an early tournament after 93-84 and 89-80 losses to France and New Zealand respectively, ending their bid to the Olympics. France finished first in the group where they went from being down 48-38 going into the fourth to winning the match 66-59.
The semi-final was similar for Canada where they did just enough to stay ahead and defeat New Zealand 78-72. France won the other semi-final over Turkey in a 75-53 match. The final saw Canada and France go toe to toe before France built up a small lead. While Canada challenged it a few times France was always equal to the task, winning the match and qualifying to the Olympics 83-74.
The third tournament in Italy saw Group A’s Greece top the group with an easy 78-53 win over Iran and needing a very strong second half to put Mexico whom actually led at half-time away 86-70. Mexico also advanced from the group after a 75-70 victory over Iran. Group B similarly saw Italy easily defeat Tunisia 68-41 and the third quarter was the difference in their match against Croatia where they won 67-60. Croatia advanced second in the group with a 72-52 victory over Tunisia.
The first semi-final match saw Croatia jump to a 31-13 lead after the first quarter against Greece. Greece however did not roll over and spent most of the match catching up and actually took a small lead towards the end of the third quarter. Croatia would eventually get it back together and quickly retook the lead and held on to it for a 66-61 point victory. The other semi-final match saw Italy win 79-54 over Mexico. The final was a very close affair. Any time Croatia would create any sort of lead Italy would erase it. A basket with five seconds remaining from Italy’s Nicolo Melli tied things up at 70-70 thus forcing overtime. Croatia would take the early lead in overtime and never relinquish it, winning the match and qualifying to the Olympics 84-78.
This was the final opportunity for nations to qualify to the Olympics in basketball. For France this will be their ninth appearance in the men’s tournament while for Serbia and Croatia this will be their fourth Olympics as independent nations, though for Serbia this will be their first under the name “Serbia.”
Tournament 1 Rankings
- Puerto Rico
- Czech Republic
Tournament 2 Rankings
- New Zealand
Tournament 3 Rankings
- FIBA. Men’s Final Qualification Tournament – Serbia. Access on July 10 2016.
- FIBA. Men’s Final Qualification Tournament – Philippines. Access on July 10 2016.
- FIBA. Men’s Final Qualification Tournament – Italy. Access on July 10 2016.