My sister is a keen basket fan. I leave her to introduce you to the Olympic basketball tournament. Enjoy!
Rio 2016 is hosting the 12th edition of the men’s Olympic basketball tournament. The women one is going to be at its 10th edition.
Watching an Olympic basketball tournament is always a fascinating thing, although other championships such as European or World tournaments can be more spectacular from some points of view.
How the Olympic basketball tournament is structured
Pool are two for each tournament, for a grand total of 12 teams for each one (men and women, hence 24 teams) These numbers clearly explain that the Olympic basketball tournament is much smaller than other championships. I like to think of it as an “intimate” tournament. Due to this nature, the tournament can be also more difficult for the teams, as the matches tend to be closer to each other – meaning less rest time between games.
Here’s the list of the men’s team attending the Olympic tournament (I list them as I tend to watch the men’s tournament more than the women’s ):
- Brazil. The team has the right to join the tournament as it’s the country hosting the Olympics
- USA, the team to beat and 2014 World Champions
- Argentina, American champions
- Venezuela, American vice champions
- China, Asian champions
- Spain, European champions
- Lituania, I called them “the immortals” because they never give up, European vice champions
- Australia, Oceanic champions
- Nigeria, African champions
- Serbia, Croatia and France got their Olympic pass by winning the pre-Olympic tournaments
Italy was the great disappointed team, as they didn’t manage to get the pass for Rio. The Azzurri were awaited to deliver a great performance at the pre-Olympic tournament, as in Italy this very team of guys is considered as the most talented team ever existed in the history of the Italian basket. Nevertheless, Croatia won over them, and the Italians are going to watch the Olympic basketball tournament from home.
Generally speaking, the pools look balanced and a bit tricky for strongest teams. USA is the only exception. I watch the game against China, and the US Dream Team looks to be the team to beat.
Players who won’t be there
The Olympic Games are that magical window happening every four years when anything can happen. Who knows, maybe also the less talented and favourite team might play some trick and get some medal hopes!
It wouldn’t be the first time that such thing happens at an Olympic basketball tournament. I remembered myself crying of joy at Athens 2004, when Argentina managed to beat the Dream Team of the young Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James and Tim Duncan.
Many players were looking forward to be in Rio. Some of them, though, have decided to take some time off from basket, like LeBron James. He’s won two Olympic Gold already, after all. On the other hand, players like Damian Lillard had to drop out due to injuries.
Last but not least, there athletes that don’t want to risk their offspring’s health. It’s the case of Gordon Hayward, who went for staying at home and avoid the Zika virus. His wife is pregnant, so we can’t really blame him for his decision.
Who will win the Olympic basketball tournament?
USA and Argentina, along with Spain (even if they lost again Croatia!) are my three picks for the medals. Never say never, though: underdogs are always around the corner, and this tournament looks like it’s going to be surprising.