Eight men’s basketball teams have qualified for the 2016 Rio Olympics: United States, Brazil, Venezuela, Argentina, Spain, Lithuania, Nigeria and Australia.
That leaves four spots up for grabs.
One will go to the winner of the FIBA Asia Championship, which begins tomorrow.
The other three will be determined by three Olympic Qualifying Tournaments. The winner of each advances to Rio.
Fifteen of the 18 teams in the Olympic Qualifying Tournaments are determined by finish in the continental tournaments, the best teams that didn’t secure Olympic bids. So far, 12 teams are ticketed for the Olympic Qualifying Tournaments:
- Puerto Rico
- Czech Republic
- New Zealand
The second through fourth teams in the FIBA Asia Championship will also go to the Olympic Qualify Tournaments.
Here’s why that’s important: The host of an Olympic Qualifying Tournament plays in it.
So, hosting an Olympic Qualifying Tournament would be Turkey’s only chance of making the 2016 Rio Olympics. Turkey – which went 3-3 at EuroBasket with wins over Italy, Germany and Iceland – is good enough to win an Olympic Qualifying Tournament. Ersan Ilyasova is an alright No. 1 option, and the team has intriguing young players like Cedi Osman.
If Italy – already qualified for the Olympic Qualifying Tournaments – gets to host, the next-best team from its zone would get a bid. That’d be great news for Latvia, which finished eighth at EuroBasket.
Danilo Gallinari, Andrea Bargnani and Marco Belinelli give Italy a fairly loaded roster. Home-court advantage could push the Italians over the edge, but no matter where they play, they’re at least in a Qualifying Tournament.
The stakes are a bit higher for Turkey and Latvia.