Atlanta Hawks

Tiago Splitter
AP

Tiago Splitter will miss Rio Olympics

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Tiago Splitter, Brazil’s third-leading scorer at the 2012 Olympics, will miss the Rio Olympics due to NBA season-ending hip surgery, he said, according to Universo Online.

The Atlanta Hawks center has not played since Jan. 31. The team announced Tuesday that Splitter will have surgery, and Brazilian reports said the surgery is planned Feb. 25.

There was “no word” as of Tuesday evening how the surgery might impact Splitter’s Olympic availability, a Hawks spokesman said in an email, before Splitter’s comments were published by Universo Online.

The Hawks are in position to make the NBA playoffs, which will run into mid-June. The Olympics begin Aug. 5.

Splitter, 31, averaged 10.8 points per game at the London Olympics for Brazil, which lost in the quarterfinals.

Other Brazilian NBA players include Warriors guard Leandro Barbosa (16.2 points per game in London), Lakers guard Marcelo Huertas (11.3 points per game in London), Cavs forward-center Anderson Varejao (7.3 points per game in London) and Wizards forward-center Nenê (seven points per game in London).

MORE: USA Basketball adds All-Star point guard to Rio finalists

Dirk Nowitzki, Germany suffer heartbreaking loss in bid to KO Spain from Olympic qualifying

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Dirk Nowitzki and Germany nearly eliminated two-time reigning Olympic silver medalist Spain from Olympic men’s basketball qualifying, falling 77-76 at EuroBasket in Berlin on Thursday.

The Germans rallied from deficits of 13 points with 6:37 left and seven points with 56 seconds left of the group-play game that ended up being an elimination game.

The winner would advance to the European Olympic qualifying tournament round of 16. The loser would not only be done at EuroBasket, but also not finish in third through seventh place overall, which is necessary for an automatic berth in the global, last-chance Olympic qualifying tournament in July.

The top two at EuroBasket earn spots in the 12-team 2016 Olympic basketball tournament.

Down 77-74 on Thursday, Germany and Atlanta Hawks guard Dennis Schroeder was fouled while shooting a three-pointer with three seconds left. He made the first two free throws but missed the third that would have likely sent the game to overtime.

The loss is widely viewed as Dirk Nowitzki‘s final international game, though Germany could be awarded one of three wild-card places in the global, last-chance tournament in July by FIBA.

Preference for those wild-card places is expected to be given to higher-placing teams in continental Olympic qualifiers, though. Germany’s finish outside the top 16 in EuroBasket will not help its case, if it makes one.

This asterisk is why a Spain loss to Germany might not have derailed its Olympic hopes entirely, and why reigning Olympic bronze medalist Russia may also get a second chance to qualify for Rio after it was eliminated in EuroBasket group play.

Nowitzki, 37, led Germany at the Beijing 2008 Olympics, where it failed to reach the quarterfinals in its only Olympic appearance since 1992. Nowitzki memorably shaved the Olympic rings into the side of his hair before the Games and carried the German flag in the Opening Ceremony.

After the game, Nowitzki was given a standing ovation by the Berlin arena crowd (video here).

Spain survived and advanced without four of its star NBA players — Marc Gasol, Ricky Rubio, Serge Ibaka and Jose Calderon — all sitting out EuroBasket for various reasons but who could return for the Rio Olympics. Its only stalwart on the EuroBasket roster is Pau Gasol.

Spain’s road to Olympic qualification at EuroBasket will not get easier. It is in the same half of the knockout bracket as undefeated France, whose roster includes NBA players Tony Parker, Nicolas Batum, Boris Diaw and Rudy Gobert.

Spain and France could meet in the semifinals next Thursday with the winner receiving an Olympic berth and the loser forced to the global, last-chance qualifying tournament in July.

France beat Spain 65-52 in the 2014 FIBA World Cup quarterfinals, a tournament won by the U.S. to clinch the first Rio 2016 Olympic berth. Brazil, Australia and Nigeria have since been added to the Olympic field, with two more teams to join them from FIBA Americas on Friday.

The other half of the EuroBasket round of 16 bracket includes reigning World silver medalist Serbia and Lithuania, a traditional power that finished fourth at Worlds in 2014.

EuroBasket schedule and standings are available here.

MORE BASKETBALL: Five Olympic questions with Steve Nash

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Canada-Venezuela, Argentina-Mexico for Olympic men’s basketball spots

Andrew Wiggins
AP
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Canada can clinch its first Olympic men’s basketball berth since 2000 on Friday, while Argentina could qualify for its fourth straight Olympics.

Canada, led by NBA Rookie of the Year Andrew Wiggins, faces Venezuela in Mexico City in the FIBA Americas semifinals at 7 p.m. ET.

Argentina, which has played the U.S. in the last three Olympic semifinals, faces Mexico at 9:30 p.m.

The winners of both games will join the 2014 World champion U.S., Brazil, Australia and Nigeria in the Rio Olympic men’s basketball field that will eventually include 12 teams.

The losers will get another chance to make the Olympics at a global, last-chance qualifying tournament in July, one month before the Games.

Canada last played in the Olympics in 2000 with Steve Nash, who is now retired. It went 6-1 in preliminary play at FIBA Americas, beating Venezuela 82-62 last Thursday, and has several NBA players on its team, including Wiggins, Cory Joseph, Anthony Bennett and Nik Stauskas.

Venezuela, with no NBA players on its roster, squeaked into the semifinals by going 3-4 in preliminary play. Its previous Olympic appearance came in 1992.

Argentina, the last team to beat the U.S. at the Olympics and the 2004 gold medalist, went 6-1 in preliminary play despite not having stalwart Manu Ginobili, who has said he is likely done playing in international competition. Its team is led by 2004 Olympic champions Luis Scola and Andres Nocioni.

Mexico, which hasn’t qualified for an Olympic basketball tournament since 1976, also went 6-1 and has one NBA player on its team, Milwaukee Bucks backup point guard Jorge Gutierrez.

Mexico beat Argentina 95-83 on Wednesday night, setting up Friday’s rematch.

Puerto Rico, which also beat the U.S. at the 2004 Olympics, finished fifth at FIBA Americas and also advanced to the global, last-chance qualifying tournament.

The Dominican Republic, which played in three winner-goes-to-London games in 2012 Olympic qualifying and lost them all, finished sixth and will not advance automatically to the last-chance tournament, though there are wild-card spots available. Atlanta Hawks All-Star and Dominican Al Horford skipped FIBA Americas.

MORE BASKETBALL: Five Olympic questions with Steve Nash