Turkey, not Lebanon, keeps its Olympic basketball dream alive

Getty Images
1 Comment

Turkey finished a disappointing 14th at EuroBasket last fall – securing neither a berth in the 2016 Olympics nor even a spot in the Olympic Qualifying Tournaments. Turkey’s only hope of reaching Rio was hosting an Olympic Qualifying Tournament and winning it.

But, as expected, FIBA named Serbia, Italy and Philippines as the three Olympic Qualifying Tournament hosts.

Yet, somehow, Turkey also got a bid.

Teams hosting Olympic Qualifying Tournaments also play in them. But Serbia, Italy and Philippines already qualified by virtue of their finish in their continental tournaments. Per FIBA’s stated rules, the next-highest-finishing those teams from those continents advance. That would be Latvia and Croatia behind Serbia and Italy from Europe, Lebanon behind Philippines from Asia.

Croatia and Serbia got bids. But instead of Lebanon, it was another European team getting the other – Turkey.

This just smells like an international sporting body looking at money ahead of fair competition.

FIBA sent NBC Sports this statement on their decision.

“Lebanon, who came in fifth at the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship, are currently not in good standing with FIBA Asia. Therefore, the Executive Committee of FIBA used of its right to choose a replacement and, in line with the FIBA World Ranking and the final standings of the 2015 continental championships, decided to extend an invitation to Turkey.”

“Not in good standing” means they are behind in payments.

Turkey – with Ersan Ilyasova and Cedi Osman – has an outside chance of winning an Olympic Qualifying Tournament to make the 2016 Games. That’s a much bigger threat than Lebanon would’ve presented. But that’s not the point.