Argentina's Ginobili goes to the basket under pressure from Panama's Pomare, Lloreda and Warren during the FIBA Americas Championship basketball game in Mar del Plata

Final eight teams set in FIBA Americas Olympic qualifier

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We are through the group stage of the FIBA Americas tournament. Long live the Group Stage, part two.

After the first round of games in Argentina, two teams have been eliminated — Cuba and Paraguay. So we are down to eight and the second round of group play — because who doesn’t love more group play? — with two of these teams Qualifying for the Olympics next year:

The Dominican Republic, Panama, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Argentina, Canada, Brazil and. Uruguay.

Over the next four days, each team will play one game against the four teams that advanced from the other group. The combined record of the first two rounds will determine which teams advance to the “final four” knockout stage.

Look for Argentina (currently 3-0 thanks to Manu Ginobili), Puerto Rico (2-1), the Dominican Republic (2-1) and Brazil (2-1) to advance to the final four. Smart money has Argentina as one of the final two, but the other three elite teams want to do well this round to avoid Argentina in the final four (which is single elimination).

Also, whichever team comes in fifth gets an invite (along with teams three and four) to the pre-Olympics qualifying tournament next year. For teams like Canada, Venezuela and Uruguay that should be the goal. (Panama, at 0-3, should be happy they get to still be playing anywhere).

Dwight Howard played through torn MCL and meniscus in playoffs

Dwight Howard
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Dwight Howard hasn’t exactly been healthy in recent years. He missed half of last season with various injuries, including a two-month stretch from January to March after undergoing a knee procedure. On Thursday, he told a Houston radio station that the knee problems continued after that, and he had torn ligaments and cartilage during the Rockets’ Western Conference Finals series against the Warriors:

It’s a little alarming that we didn’t hear about this until now. Sometimes these injuries can heal without surgery, but Howard can become a free agent next summer, so you would think he would want to get any lingering issues addressed ahead of time. Considering his age (he’ll be 30 in December) and his injury history, this isn’t a great sign. A healthy Howard is the difference between the Rockets being a legitimate title contender and an als0-ran, so hopefully these problems are behind him and he can stay healthy this season.

Report: Trevor Booker suspended one game for Hibbert altercation

Trevor Booker
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On Tuesday night, Jazz big man Trevor Booker was ejected from a preseason game against the Lakers for taking a swing at Roy Hibbert during a scrap.

Now, Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that Booker will be suspended one game for the hit, meaning he’ll miss the Jazz’ October 28 season opener against the Pistons:

Considering he was already ejected, a one-game suspension seems about right.