Doncic, Antetokounmpo among those seeking Paris Olympic berths in last-chance qualifying tournaments

Luka Doncic and Giannis Antetokounmpo are about to get one last chance at reaching the Paris Olympics. Same goes for Domantas Sabonis and Nikola Vucevic. And Rudy Fernandez is about to get his shot at making history.

The last four spots in the 12-team Olympic men’s basketball field for the Paris Games start getting decided on Tuesday, with the beginning of winner-take-all qualifying tournaments in Spain, Latvia, Puerto Rico and Greece.

Each site is playing host to a six-team tournament that runs through July 7, and the four winners get the last four spots in the Olympic field.

“We are in the best possible place,” Antetokounmpo said when asked about getting to play qualifying games at home in Greece.

It’s likely that he and Doncic will go head to head at some point; Slovenia is in Greece for that qualifier. Meanwhile, in Spain, the perennial Olympic medal contenders aren’t just trying to get to Paris — there’s also a quest to make Fernandez, the Spanish great, the first six-time men’s basketball Olympian.

“We want to see that dream happen,” Spain coach Sergio Scariolo said.

The format has two groups of three teams at each tournament. For group play, which runs Tuesday through Thursday, each nation plays the other two teams in their group. The top two teams in each group — so four total from each site — advance to semifinals that will be held on Saturday. Championship games at all four sites are Sunday.

A look at the qualifiers:

Site: Valencia, Spain.

Group A: Lebanon, Angola, Spain.

Group B: Finland, Poland, Bahamas.

Outlook: Spain is at home and that’s a big edge, but the Bahamas believes it can surprise for three very good reasons — Deandre Ayton, Buddy Hield and Eric Gordon, all of whom are on that nation’s roster for the qualifiers.

Site: Riga, Latvia.

Group A: Georgia, Philippines, Latvia.

Group B: Brazil, Cameroon, Montenegro.

Outlook: The host Latvians didn’t get the easiest draw in the world, especially with the Philippines now coached by Tim Cone — a former Miami Heat summer league assistant with more than two dozen championships during his time in the Philippines. Montenegro’s hopes rest largely on Nikola Vucevic.

Site: Piraeus, Greece.

Group A: Slovenia, New Zealand, Croatia.

Group B: Egypt, Greece, Dominican Republic.

Outlook: The potential for a Greece-Slovenia final seems high, and that would be great theater — Doncic vs. Antetokounmpo for a spot in the Olympics. Doncic played through injuries in the NBA Finals for Dallas in its five-game loss to Boston, and the fact that he’s playing here shows how much the Olympic shot means to him.

Site: San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Group A: Mexico, Ivory Coast, Lithuania.

Group B: Italy, Puerto Rico, Bahrain.

Outlook: Danilo Gallinari headlines the roster for a very experienced Italy team, one that has to face host Puerto Rico in the group stage but could still advance to the semifinals even with a loss. Lithuania seems to have the most experience in Group A, and it would be a surprise not to see that squad in the semifinals.


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