One’s gut reaction to the “who should win the FIBA Asia tournament?” is China. The country’s youth love basketball and there certainly is a large population pool to draw from.
But without Yao Ming around to anchor that squad in the paint, it wasn’t so easy. Still, China earned a berth in the 2012 London Olympics by defeating Jordan 80-79 in the FIBA Asia championship game. It took a Yi Jianlian free throw with 28 seconds left (on a backcourt foul that would make a junior high coach cringe) but they got the win. Yi finished the game with 25 points and 16 rebounds to lead China.
That makes nine teams set for the London Olympics field of 12: The United States, Great Britain, Spain, France, Brazil, Argentina, Australia, Tunisia and now China.
The Olympics is a 12-team tournament so there will be a pre-Olympics qualifying tournament next summer to decide the final three spots. The teams competing for that are Jordan, Korea, Lithuania, Greece, Macedonia, Russia, Dominican Republic, Angola, Nigeria, and New Zealand. The dates and location of that tournament are too be determined.
The United States will enter the heavy favorites in London, but first they face some serious questions about who should be on the roster.