Greece Wins, and Giannis Antetokounmpo Makes his Olympic Debut

Currently, Giannis Antetokounmpo is an Olympian.

In one of the four men’s basketball qualifying tournament finals being staged to select the last spots in the 12-team field for the Paris Games, Antetokounmpo scored 23 points, and Greece defeated Croatia 80-69 on Sunday to send the latter team to its first-ever Olympics.

Greece qualified for the Olympics for the first time since 2008 thanks to Georgios Papagiannis’ 19 goals, which included 14 from Nick Calathes.

“It’s very nice to qualify because that’s the first step,” Papagiannis remarked. “At the Olympics, we’re looking to do something really good there.”

Mateo Dreznjak, Mario Hezonja, and Dario Saric each scored 15 points, while Ivica Zubac led Croatia with 19 points and 13 rebounds.

Greece will compete in the initial round of the Paris Games in Group A, where it will face Australia, Canada, and either Spain or the Bahamas.

The four-time reigning gold medalists from the United States, France, Germany, Japan, Serbia, South Sudan, Canada, and Australia have already qualified for the Paris field. The other seven countries on that list qualified based on their results at the World Cup last summer; France qualified as the host nation.

There were 24 teams remaining to fight for the final four spots after the World Cup. These winner-take-all qualifiers, which got underway last week, determined them. On Sunday, Brazil took the top spot, followed by Greece and Spain.

Later on Sunday, when Lithuania travels to Puerto Rico, the final 12 Olympic spots will be determined.

36, Bahamas 78, Spain 86

A record breaking six Olympic games for a men’s basketball player, Rudy Fernandez is headed to his sixth games. And it took Spain a long time to get him there.

After defeating the Bahamas 86-78 in Valencia, Spain secured its sixth consecutive Olympic berth.

Spain’s Lorenzo Brown scored eighteen points, with Willy Hernangomez scoring fourteen, Santiago Aldama scoring twelve, and Usman Garuba scoring ten.

With 19 points, Buddy Hield led the Bahamas. Valdez Edgecombe Jr. finished with 12 points, Eric Gordon had 15, and Deandre Ayton scored 17.

Spain, together with Australia and Canada, is in Group A for the first round of the games in Paris, just like Greece.

Latvia 69, Brazil 94

Brazil used a 19-0 run in the last 3:21 of the first quarter in Riga, Latvia, to set the tone for their unexpectedly simple 94-69 victory over Latvia.

Brazil was led by Bruno Caboclo with 21 points, followed by Leo Meindl with 20. To close out the first quarter, Caboclo drained a 65-foot 3-pointer. During that quarter, Brazil went 8 for 8 from outside the arc, taking a 34-11 advantage and shocking the home crowd.

For Latvia, Rihards Lomazs scored fifteen, while Rolands Smits and Arturs Zagars each contributed fourteen.

Brazil’s Olympic schedule includes matches against France (July 27), Germany (July 30), and Japan (Aug. 2) in Group B.