Down a final four in African Olympic qualifying


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.