The 2013 FIBA Americas Championship tournament will wrap up this week, but the important part was concluded on Sunday when the semifinalists were finalized. The top four teams of the tournament automatically earn berths to next year’s FIBA World Cup (an Olympic qualifier) meaning Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Argentina and Mexico are one step closer to appearing at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
The first three teams were all expected to be in this position, but Mexico’s bid comes as a surprise considering they weren’t even going to play in the tournament until Panama was ruled ineligible. North America’s neighbors to the south earned their surprising bid, though, with back-to-back victories over Jamaica and Puerto Rico over the weekend.
For USA fans wondering about recognizable names on the rosters of the qualifying teams, Puerto Rico has J.J. Barea, Carlos Arroyo and Renaldo Balkman; Mexico features Gustavo Ayon, Jorge Gutierrez, Orlando Mendez-Valdez and Lorenzo Mata-Real; the Dominican Republic had internet sensation Jack Michael Martinez and Francisco Garcia; and Argentina was dragged to the semifinals on the back of Indiana Pacers big Luis Scola.
Two teams eliminated at the FIBA Americas tournament could be in the running for a wild card bid for next year’s world cup, but their early-round losses at the FIBA Americas tournament have hurt their chances of having an easy path in the 2016 Olympics. Team Canada featured four NBA players, but were missing Anthony Bennett, Andrew Wiggins and Kelly Olynyk due to injury — and eventually were eliminated with a loss to the Dominican Republic squad. Brazil is the one of the best teams in international competition, but they went 0-4 with a roster decimated with the absence of Nene, Anderson Varejao, Tiago Splitter and Leandro Barbosa.
The two semifinals are for bragging rights, mostly, but will tip-off Tuesday with Mexico taking on Argentina and Dominican Republic facing Puerto Rico for a berth in Wednesday’s championship game.