We’ve been giving you regular updates on what is happening with the Olympic qualifying tournaments taking place in Europe and South America right now.
But we haven’t really discussed the Oceania qualifier that just wrapped up — because it is pretty much always won by Australia. And was again Friday, with the Aussies beating New Zealand 81-64 in a game that was close until the fourth quarter (New Zealand was actually ahead by a bucket after three quarters).
That means Australia is headed to London to be part of the 2012 Olympics. They were able to qualify without having Andrew Bogut suited up — he had a second elbow surgery this summer and could not play (but was an assistant coach). Next year in London he and Patty Mills should suit up, which makes the Aussies a threat on any given day.
New Zealand will be headed to next summer’s pre-Olympic qualifying tournament where they will face off against other teams that just missed out and try to win one of the final Olympics berths.
There are 12 spots in the Olympic tournament (there should be more, but that’s an issue for another day) and four teams have qualified. They are the United States (won FIBA World Championships last summer), Great Britain (host), Tunisia (won FIBA African Championships) and now Australia. Two more teams out of South America will be added to that list Saturday.
Dwyane Wade ‘honored’ to be Prince’s favorite player
The officiating crew missed a host of calls during those final 13 seconds, but they have at least owned up to the most egregious one — missing Dion Waiters pushing off Manu Ginobili while the Thunder guard tried to inbound the ball. (Yes, Ginobili’s foot was on the line, but sorry Thunder homers that was not close to the most egregious miss at the end.)
After the game, the lead official Kenny Mauer admitted that error.
Did that decide the game? No. We like to focus on things we can blame as going wrong, but the Spurs offense started 2-of-15 shooting on the night, was inconsistent, and they still had a chance at the end. This one play is not why the Spurs lost. Manu Ginobili said it well postgame.
Raptors’ Bismack Biyombo given after-the-fact Flagrant 2 for elbow to Pacers’ Turner, no suspension
However, no mention of a suspension for this incident alone. The Raptors catch a break there, as Biyombo should have been tossed from the game and/or given a suspension for that elbow. That said, one more flagrant and he does get a suspension.
NBA’s Basketball Without Borders to host first event in Australia
Australia has brought a fair amount of talent — and scrappy players — to the NBA, and now the NBA is taking one of its outreach programs there.
Yesterday the NBA, FIBA, and Australia’s National Basketball League announced a Basketball without Borders event June 23-26 at Dandenong Basketball Stadium in Melbourne. It’s the first time the community outreach program will come to the island nation of Australia.
“We are pleased to partner with FIBA and the NBL to bring the first Basketball without Borders camp to Australia,” NBA Asia Managing Director Scott Levy said in a statement. “The league has seen a surge of Australian talent in recent years, and we look forward to supporting the next generation by giving them a platform to showcase their skills alongside their peers from throughout the region.”
These events bring in youth basketball players and work with them, both giving young players highest quality instruction and raising the profile of the sport in the nation with a little star power. Basketball Without Borders will celebrate 15 years this summer and has been all over the globe with similar events.