Nigeria

Getty Images

China’s Olympic men’s basketball streak in danger; Iran, Nigeria qualify for Tokyo

Leave a comment

China sent a men’s basketball team to every Olympics from 1984 through 2016. Its streak is in danger of being snapped.

China lost to Nigeria 86-73 in its last FIBA World Cup game on Sunday. That means Iran claimed the lone Asian Olympic qualifying spot available at the tournament, after the Iranians beat the Philippines 95-75, also Sunday.

China will get a last chance to qualify to play at its 10th straight Olympics at a tournament next year, where it likely must go through a higher-ranked European nation.

Nigeria’s win meant that the D’Tigers are going to their third straight Olympics. Nigeria needed to beat China to overtake Tunisia for the lone African Olympic berth available at the World Cup.

Nigeria, which went 1-4 at its two Olympics in 2012 and 2016, has a roster that includes current and former NBA players Al-Farouq Aminu, Josh Okogie and Ike Diogu.

Iran goes to its first Olympics since going winless in 2008, when it qualified with a boost by not having to better host nation China. Its roster is led by former Memphis Grizzlies 7-footer Hamed Haddadi.

Iran and Nigeria join Australia and Japan as the first four teams in the 12-team Olympic field. Four more nations will qualify for the Olympics at this month’s World Cup — two from the Americas and two from Europe.

The last four will be determined next year at those last-chance qualifying tournaments.

Only Australia has played in more consecutive Olympic men’s basketball tournaments on the active list than China.

China and the U.S. each played in every tournament starting with the 1984 Los Angeles Games. China didn’t participate in the Summer Olympics at all from 1956 through 1980. The U.S. boycotted the 1980 Moscow Games.

China lost 12 straight Olympic contests dating to when it hosted the 2008 Beijing Games. Now-retired Yao Ming led the team in 2000, 2004 and 2008, but the nation has never reached an Olympic semifinals.

Yao, now president of China’s basketball federation, was reportedly asked who was responsible for this failure. “Me,” he replied to end the brief interview.

Fellow former NBA big man Yi Jianlian is the new elder statesman, at 31 years old and perhaps on his way to a fifth Olympics. In 2004, Yi played at age 16. He remains the youngest man to play Olympic basketball since 1948.

MORE: FIBA World Cup schedule, results

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

U.S. comes back, beats Nigeria to reach FIBA World Cup semifinals

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The U.S. trailed Nigeria for most of the first half of their FIBA World Cup quarterfinal.

Even with 2-for-16 shooting in the first quarter, the Americans rattled off eight straight points going into the break, then rolled to a 71-40 win in the Canary Islands on Friday.

“We had a lot of layups that just didn’t go in, and we weren’t too concerned about it,” Breanna Stewart, who scored a game-high 19 points on 7-of-8 shooting, said, according to USA Basketball. “We were happy with our defense, and we knew offense was going to come.”

The U.S., rallying from a 17-9 deficit after the opening frame, improved to 13-0 all-time against African nations at the senior level.

If the U.S. wins its next two games for a third straight world title (and 2020 Olympic qualification), it will run its record between the Olympics and World Cup to 100-1 in the last 22 years. The lone loss came to Russia in the 2006 Worlds semifinals.

Next up in Saturday’s semifinals: 28th-ranked Belgium, playing in the Olympics or the World Cup for the first time. The Belgians crushed world No. 3 France 86-65 in a later Friday quarterfinal.

This American team is without stalwarts from its previous decade of undefeated play at the Olympics and worlds. Tamika Catchings and Lindsay Whalen retired after Rio. Candace Parker said she will not play for Team USA again after being left off the 2016 Olympic team.

Minnesota Lynx stars Seimone AugustusSylvia Fowles and Maya Moore, as well as Angel McCoughtry, are reportedly either resting or recuperating from injuries following the WNBA season.

It wasn’t until the U.S.’ fourth game of the tournament Friday that Brittney Griner was well enough from an ankle injury to join Sue BirdDiana TaurasiBreanna Stewart and Tina Charles as starters. Elena Delle Donne, who suffered a knee injury in the WNBA playoffs, saw significant action for the first time in three games with 17 minutes off the bench against Nigeria.

The U.S. has still won all of its games by double digits, but none came against a world power.

MORE: U.S. volleyball’s ‘Slugger’ goes from coaching to MVP

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Six nations to make Winter Olympic debuts in PyeongChang

AP
Leave a comment

Ecuador, Eritrea, Kosovo, Malaysia, Nigeria and Singapore will make their Winter Olympic debuts in PyeongChang.

The athletes:

Klaus Jungbluth Rodriguez, Alpine Skiing (Ecuador)
Shannon Ogbani-Abeda, Alpine Skiing (Eritrea)
Albin Tahiri, Alpine Skiing (Kosovo)
Jeffrey Webb, Alpine Skiing (Malaysia)
Julian Yee, Figure Skating (Malaysia)
Seun Adigun, Bobsled (Nigeria)
Ngozi Onwumere, Bobsled (Nigeria)
Akuoma Omeoga, Bobsled (Nigeria)
Simidele Adeagbo, Skeleton (Nigeria)
Cheyenne Goh, Short Track Speed Skating (Singapore)

The International Olympic Committee has short bios on most of the athletes here.

The most pre-Olympic attention fell on the Nigerian bobsledders, all former NCAA track and field athletes who trained bobsled in Texas.

One of Onwumere and Omeoga will not compete in PyeongChang since only one brakewoman is allowed to compete. The current Olympic entries list has Omeoga entered as Adigun’s brakewoman.

Nigeria owns 25 Summer Olympic medals, making it the third-most successful Summer Olympic nation yet to compete in a Winter Games (Cuba, Indonesia), according to Olympic historians known as the OlyMADMen.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Ghana skeleton slider’s lion-rabbit helmet for Olympics