The qualification action for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio is underway, and in Manilla the action on Day 1 threw up plenty of excitement. The pick of the action saw France pushed to the limit against home nation, the Philippines, but all the games offered an interesting story of their own.
The Philippines used a hot home crowd got the team off to a fantastic start, but France’s start players soon started to click. The French has an Olympic Games roster that could provide some dark horse momentum in Brazil later in the summer. Here though the hosts roared to a 22-30 lead in the first quarter before Les Bleus found touch and took control of the game and won 93-84.
Star men Nando De Colo and Tony Parker will be important at the games and proved the difference here. De Colo drained a game high 27 points, with Parker adding 21 points to secure the win.
Turkey fell victim to Canada and lost 69-77. Canada managed to carve a 17-21 lead through the first quarter and led thereafter. A 13-18 second frame handed the Great White North a 30-39 halftime advantage and the Canadians held on late to fight off a Turkish rally. Corey Joseph was the driving force in offence for the victory, nailing 21 points and dishing 5 assists.
Italy secured a 67-60 victory over Croatia in a victory that sent the Azzurri through to the semifinal, the first nation in Manilla to achieve the spot.
In Belgrade another Olympic Games qualifying tournament is taking place, and in that competition Puerto Rico picked up its first win. The country took out Angola 91-81, in a game that was surprisingly close. Star Puerto Rican Carlos Arroyo scored 18 points to pace the win, a haul that was matched by Jose Juan Barea.
Latvia secured its semifinal berth in Belgrade with a comfortable 71-59 win over the Czech Republic, becoming the only country in Serbia to progress so far. Latvia was actually sloppy from distance, so to claim the win the team had to work inside, with 28 of its final 40 points coming in the paint. The Czech Republic was actually 53-52 ahead in the fourth, but wilted on the back of poor shooting from the charity strip.