Eleven down, one more ticket to go.
As many have predicted, the 2016 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Manila, Philippines, is down to the final between favorites France and Canada.
Both sides battled against other competing teams, but both have proved why they are the two best squads in the Manila OQT. The two will now dispute the final ticket to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics in Brazil.
Canada swept Group A with wins over Turkey (77-69) and Senegal (58-55), before beating New Zealand in the semifinals (78-72). France did the same in Group B, defeating host nation Philippines (93-84) and New Zealand (66-59), before ousting Turkey in the semifinals (75-63).
Joseph had averages of 19 PPG, 4.3 RPG, and 3.7 APG in his first three games, including 23 points in the semi-finals against New Zealand.
The Toronto Raptors guard is the initiator of the Canadian offense. He needs to get going to get his teammates involved.
Thompson had averages of 10 PPG and 8.7 RPG in his first three games of the tournament. Against New Zealand, he dropped a double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds.
His presence will be vital against a French team that loves to attack the paint and score off high percentage shots. If he can protect the rim and control the glass, France will have a more difficult time.
Nando de Colo
De Colo has been the Les Bleus’ best player of the tournament so far, averaging 15.7 PPG, 4.7 RPG, and 2 APG. He has also shot 55.2 percrnt from the field, 35.7 percent from three-point line, and 90.9 percent from the stripe.
Parker has averages of 9.7 PPG, 2.3 RPG, and 3.3 APG in the tournament. While he has been quiet in his team’s last two games, Parker dropped 21 points against the Philippines.
He remains very capable of doing damage. If he shows flashes of aggressiveness early on, he will be able to provide his team with many opportunities on offense.
Canada: Melvin Ejim
Ejim had been a standout during Canada’s preparation games, and in the tournament, he averages 10.3 PPG, 5.7 RPG, and 1.3 BPG off the bench. The athletic forward could be a difference-maker against the rest of France’s bigs.
France: The bench
France’s reserves had 32 points against New Zealand, and 42 points over Turkey. Guys like Mickael Gelabale, Kim Tillie, Thomas Heurtel, Antoine Diot, and Florent Pietrus can all give contributions for the team so the drop-off between the starters and the next unit is not so large.
Serbia drubs Puerto Rico
In the Belgrade OQT final, host squad Serbia drubbed Puerto Rico, 108-77, to enter the Olympics.
Serbia poured 37 points in the first quarter alone and took a 26-point lead to bury Puerto Rico for good.
Bogdan Bogdanovic led five players in double-digits with 26 points on 9-for-14 shooting and eight assists, while Nikola Jokic added 23 points.
Serbia shot a whopping 58.7 percent from the field and had all 37 field goal makes assisted.
JJ Barea led Puerto Rico with 22 points, including 4-for-8 from three-point area, while Carlos Arroyo added 14 points and six assists.
Croatia holds off Italy in OT
Croatia broke the hearts of hosts Italy in the Turin OQT final, winning in overtime, 84-78, to book their ticket to Rio.
Bojan Bogdanovic was the high-point man with 26 points. Krunoslav Simon had 21 points and six rebounds, while Dario Saric had 18 points and 13 boards. Simon and Saric both shot 50 percent from the floor.
A basket by Saric and a triple by Simon opened overtime as Croatia took a 75-70 lead. Later, Bogdanovic hit the dagger triple, which pushed Croatia’s lead up to 80-74 with just over a minute to play in the extra period.
Marco Belinelli led Italy with 18 pts, while Danilo Gallinari had 12 points and eight boards.
Croatia, Serbia, and the winner of the Canada-France match will join the United States, Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, Spain, Lithuania, China, Nigeria, and Australia in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games.
Last night’s Scores, Highlights, Top Plays
EJIM WITH THE CHASE DOWN!
BENNETT WITH THE JAM!
Top 5 plays from Day 4