Down a final four in African Olympic qualifying

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Next July in London you will see one of these four teams: Cote d’Ivoire, Tunisia, Nigeria or Angola. Probably Angola, by the way, but there have been enough surprises in FIBA AfroBasket — the Olympic qualifying tournament for that continent — that one should keep watching.

Angola hadn’t lost a game to an African team in a decade until it lost to Senegal in group play. That meant as they headed into the elimination round Angola had to go the harder route through Cameroon. It took double overtime, but Angola advanced and will face Nigeria (staring former NBA player Ime Udoka). Cote d’Ivoire — which knocked off Senegal — will face Tunisia (without Hasheem Thabeed, who is not playing for them) in the other semifinal.

The winners will play on Sunday with an automatic berth in the Olympics on the line. The loser of that game and the winner of the bronze medal game will advance to next summer’s second-chance Olympic qualifying tournament against the teams that just missed from other continents.

FIBA Americas — the qualifying tournament of the Americas — starts next Tuesday in Argentina. EuroBasket, both the championship of that continent and the Olympic qualifying event, starts next Wednesday in Lithuania. That will be a tournament to watch.

PBT Extra bold prediction previews: Clippers ready to win West?

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With our PBT Extra videos, we are previewing the entire NBA by using bold predictions, starting in the Pacific Division (we already did the Warriors).

Some of those predictions come from fans on Twitter where I had sent out a request, including the bold prediction for the Clippers.

It could happen, they are certainly contenders. But two things need to happen.

The big one is their defense, which was middle of the pack last season, needs to move into the top 10 (and DeAndre Jordan needs to play consistently like a guy who is third in Defensive Player of the Year voting).

Second is the new and improved bench unit of Lance Stephenson, Josh Smith, and Jamal Crawford (he’s not new) need to mesh into a unit. Those are three guys who like to create for themselves and make questionable shot choices, getting them play well with others could be a bumpy road.

Stephen Curry gives high five while his shot is in air (video)

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Stephen Curry said the defending-champion Warriors would have no problem picking up where they left off.

His swagger certainly remains intact.