Competitive like a FIBA World Championship
Beijing is ready...
... but there are still 3 teams that will have a chance to qualify for the Olympic Basketball tournaments in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament for Men in Athens.
The following nine teams have already booked their tickets for the Olympic Basketball Tournament for Men that will take place in Beijing, China, from 9th to 24th August 2008: Angola, Argentina, Australia, China, Iran, Lithuania, Russia, Spain and USA.
The remaining three men's berths for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games will be decided in the 12-team FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament amongst the following teams: Brazil, Cape Verde, Canada, Cameroon, Croatia, Germany, Greece, Korea, Lebanon, New Zealand, Puerto Rico and Slovenia.
Some of the biggest stars of the game will compete in Athens like Dirk Nowitzki from Germany, Leandro Barbosa from Brazil, Theo Papaloukas from Greece, Carlos Arroyo from Puerto Rico and Jaka Lakovic from Slovenia. And all of them know that it will be an incredible difficult task to gain one of the remaining three tickets to Beijing.
Lakovic: "For every athlete in every sport, it is the biggest to play in the Olympics and enjoying the Olympic spirit. In the Olympics, there are 12 teams playing for the title. And I think playing in the Olympics would be much easier than playing in the EuroBasket, where you have many good teams. In the Olympics, you have good teams. But maybe six, so you can fight though the rest."
The FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament for Men will be played from 14th to 20th July in order to ensure the highest possible standard and to allow the participating teams to enjoy a longer preparation phase and count with the presence of their best players.
Here are some reactions from players and coaches after the draw:
Marko Popovic (Croatia): "Every game will be very important, because every game could be decisive. We will do everything to make it to the Olympic Games. It's a good thing we can not meet Greece in the quarter-finals, while I also hope that we will avoid Slovenia there."
Rasho Nesterovic (Player Slovenia): "We shouldn't talk about possible opponents in the quarter-finals before we actually get there. All in all, I am confident that we have the will, motivation and quality to reach our aim - qualifying for Beijing."
Rodrigo Mascarenhas (Player Cape Verde): "Germany is the strongest team of the group. They are led by a fabulous player Dirk Nowitzki. It will not be easy for us. I followed the draw with some national team-mates here in Luanda (Angola). We will have the chance to measure our potential against high-class players."
Moncho Monsalve (Coach Brazil Men's team): "For us, it's a tremendous challenge to finish first of our group ahead of Greece, who are hosting the tournament. Greece needs no introduction. But I am happy with our group. I think the real test will be against Group B, with Germany and New Zealand as the likely teams we will meet in the next round if we finish in the top two spots of our group."
Nenad Vucnic (Coach New Zealand): "The tournament is full of very strong teams and others that are not so fancied, but are in the same position we were six or seven years ago ... pushing to make it to top competitions."