While focus in the United States has been on the recent announcement of the list of finalists compiled by USA Basketball, twelve countries were focused on something else Tuesday as the draw for the final qualifying tournament was made in Mies, Switzerland.
After seven teams qualified from their work in previous years, the remaining twelve teams will be in Nantes, France from June 13th through June 19th to fight for five final slots. The teams are divided into four groups of three teams with the top two teams from each round robin moving on to the next round. The quarterfinals are the critical stage as winning them mean Olympic berths and an end to further competition. The losers of those four games then proceed in a four team bracket to determine the final qualifier.
The four European teams were in one pot while Cuba and Argentina joined the teams from Asia in another pot with the remaining teams in the final pot. These groups were drawn:
- Group A: Cuba, New Zealand, France
- Group B: Cameroon, Turkey, Argentina
- Group C: Belarus, South Korea, Nigeria
- Group D: Venezuela, Spain, China
The Group letter is also important as the bracket for the quarterfinals will pit Group A teams against Group B teams and Group C teams against Group D teams. Each of the European teams will be viewed as favorites to advance, placing a premium on the group stage games between each group’s non-European teams. Preparations are mere months away for teams looking to make Olympic dreams a reality. While domestic league play wraps up, some countries will also be hard at work to make sure they can gather their strongest teams for the big tournament. The four European teams will be busy next month with Eurobasket qualifiers, giving them an early chance to prepare for the summer.
Soon we will know who will join hosts Brazil, the defending world champion United States, and the five continental champions Serbia, Canada, Australia, Japan, and Senegal.