Olympic Qualifiers: five through to semis

Olympic QualifiersThe FIBA Olympic Qualifiers continued on Wednesday as nations started booking their berths in the semifinals and making one step more towards Rio Olympic Games 2016 in August.

There are three tournaments happening, one in the Philippines, one in Italy and one in Serbia, so there was plenty of action and 12 teams to be decided for the final four spots in both competitions. Canada became the first team to reach the final four in the Philippines, while in Italy Croatia and Greece both progressed. Hosts Serbia made it to the semis in Belgrade, while the Czech Republic joined them.


Canada vs. Senegal, 58-55

Canada was tested to the limit through a tricky encounter against Senegal, but eventually edged the contest in a tense finale. The win sends the Canadians to the semifinals, but the team will have to up its game to move further. In all fairness, team Canada came up a massive defensive display from Maurice Ndour in the Senegal camp as he took 10 rebounds, and even managed 16 points at the other end. Canada struggled to get going in offence, with Melvin Ejim leading the efforts with 11 points.

Philippines vs. New Zealand, 80-89

Victory for the Tall Blacks here ended the hopes of the Philippines in the Olympic Qualifiers. The tournament hosts were undone by a resilient New Zealand effort as the visitors led for long periods and held out in the end with a huge 29 point haul in the fourth. Tai Jack Webster drained 25 points in the win, while doubling up with 11 points. Andray Blatche tried to rescue the Philippines from heartache, but his game high 30 points were not enough.


Croatia vs. Tunisia, 72-52

Croatia had a stroll in Turin and moved to the semifinals of the Olympic Qualification tournament where it will meet Greece in the final four. The Croats opened a 29-24 lead through halftime and then pulled away in the second half by mixing solid offence with a tight backcourt setup. Bojan Bogdanovic drove the win with 25 points, while Michael Brandon Roll kept Tunisia in touch with 21 points.

Mexico vs. Greece, 70-86

Greece’s hot form continued as the Europeans had far too much strength for Mexico and waltzed into the semifinals, where Croatia awaits. Mexico actually had the lead through the long break, winning the first and second quarters by a single point for a 35-33 advantage. However, Greece found momentum in the third act, plundering 27 points before wrapping it up in Q4 with another 26 points.


Czech Republic vs. Japan, 87-71

The Czech Republic dominated early on, led from the opening tip to the closing buzz, and won by 17 points. Yet, this was nervy at times because Japan produced a stirring rally in the fourth quarter. Luckily the Czech’s could live with it and picked up a win, which actually sends the country through to the semifinals in the Serbian Olympic Qualifiers. Lukas Playza topped the winning effort with 21 points.

Serbia vs. Angola, 60-83

Home nation Serbia looks good and dispatched Angola with minimum effort. Indeed, the hosts dismantled the African team at times, setting up a semifinal berth in the process. Serbia started hot, nailing 30 points in the opening frame to set up the win. There was no looking back from there as the home team extended through every period.

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