This is why.
The Canadians still qualified for an Olympic Qualifying Tournament, but yesterday’s draw gives them stiff competition to reach Rio.
Here’s the full slotting for all three Olympic Qualifying Tournaments with each team’s FIBA ranking:
16. Puerto Rico
42. Czech Republic
21. New Zealand
Each Olympic Qualifying Tournament is conducted separately. The winners fill the final three spots in the 2016 Games. (Nine teams – United States, Brazil, Venezuela, Argentina, Spain, Lithuania, Nigeria, Australia and China – are already qualified.)
Within each tournament, teams in each group play each other once. Then, the top two teams advance. Group A’s top team plays the second-place team in Group B, and Group B’s top team plays the second-place team in Group A. Winners of that game play in the championship game.
A quick breakdown of each tournament:
- Serbia appears to have a relatively easy path playing in its own country, though it could have to beat Angola or Puerto Rico twice. The three lowest-ranked teams in the OQTs are in Belgrade’s Group B.
- The Manila OQT is the strongest on paper. France, Turkey and Canada are all formidable.
- Greece and Croatia should be a fun matchup in Turin, though I wouldn’t rule out host Italy getting it together.
It’s difficult to prognosticate too deeply. Most of the games will be played during the NBA’s July moratorium, when free agents can negotiate – but not sign – contracts. That likely means significant absences across the board.