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Path to the podium: Men’s basketball

19 July 2016

BASKETBALL: The Aussie men will go in search of their first Olympic medal at Rio and with a team featuring six NBA players and four others playing in top leagues in Europe there is plenty of optimism of a podium finish at the 2016 Games.

The side has been close to medalling on multiple occasions including their best Games performances in 1988, 1996 and 2000 where they finished fourth.

The Rio 2016 competition features two groups of six teams with the top four teams from each group securing progression to the quarter-final stage of the tournament. From there, the highest ranked team in each group will play the fourth seed from the other group while the second and third seeds will feature in the other quarter-final matchup.

The Aussies have been drawn alongside tournament favourites USA, Serbia, France, Venezuela and China. Currently sitting 11th in the world Andrej Lamanis’ side is the fourth highest ranked team in the group behind USA, Serbia and France.

European based Ryan Broekhoff just missed out on the London 2012 squad but has since become a key contributor to the Australian side. He gives his thoughts on each team that stands in the way of Australia claiming an Olympic medal.

Group A opponents

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Serbia
World ranking: 6th
Best Olympic Games result: 2nd - 1996
London 2012 result: Did not qualify
Recent results vs Australia: Serbia 69-78 Australia (Friendly – 2011)
Star players: Nikola Jokic (Denver Nuggets), Milos Teodosic (CSKA Moscow, Russia), Bogdan Bogdanovic (Fenerbahce, Turkey)
Broekhoff: “Serbia are a very skilled and talented team. They really move the ball well on offence and will be a very tough team as usual.”

France
World ranking: 5th
Best Olympic Games result: 2nd – 1948, 2000
London 2012 result: 6th
Recent results vs Australia: France 73-50 Australia (Friendly - 2014), France 74- 76 Australia (Friendly - 2014)
Star players: Tony Parker (San Antonio Spurs), Nicolas Baturm (Charlotte Hornets), Rudy Gobert (Utah Jazz)
Broekhoff: “The French are a very skilled and athletic side. They have plenty of NBA stars and high level European players who have been together a long time.”

Rowing pictogram

USA
World ranking: 1st
Best Olympic Games result: gold – 14 times
London 2012 result: gold
Recent results vs Australia: USA 119-86 Australia (London 2012 quarter-finals)
Star players: Kevin Durant (Golden State Warriors), Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers), Draymond Green (Golden State Warriors)
Broekhoff: “The USA side will go into the tournament as favourites. Although they are missing some big names (Stephen Curry, Lebron James) they are a super talented side.”

Venezuela
World ranking: 22nd
Best Olympic Games result: Did not qualify
London 2012 result: 11th – 1992
Recent results vs Australia: N/A
Star Players: Greivis Vasquez (Brooklyn Nets), Gregory Vargas (Marinos de Anzoategui, Venezuela), Gregory Echenique (Guaros de Lara, Venezuela)

Rowing pictogram

China
World ranking: 14th
Best Olympic Games result: 12th
London 2012 result: 8th – 1996, 2004, 2008
Recent results vs Australia: China 95-90 Australia (Friendly - 2014), China 95-80 Australia (Friendly - 2014),
Star Players: Zhou Qi (Houston Rockets), Wang Zhelin (Memphis Grizzlies), Zhou Peng (Guandong Southern Tigers)
Broekhoff: “The Chinese will be a tough team. They have some young talent coming through (Qi, Zhelin) so could upset some teams.”

Group A favourite Spain is a potential opponent for Australia in the knockout stage.

Rowing pictogram

Spain
World ranking: 2nd
Best Olympic Games result: 2nd
London 2012 result: 2nd – 1984, 2008, 2012
Recent results vs Australia: Spain 82-70 Australia (London 2012 pool stage)
Star Players: 
Broekhoff: “Powerhouse European team with NBA and European experience. Should be up around the medals.”

Draw for Rio 2016:
Australia v France - 3:15am August 7 AEST
Serbia v Australia - 3:15am August 9 AEST
Australia v USA - 8:00am August 11 AEST
China v Australia - 3:15am August 13 AEST
Australia v Venezuela - 1:15am August 15 AEST

Matt Bartolo
olympics.com.au

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