The Tokyo Olympics men’s basketball groups were recently revealed on February 2nd. There will be three groups of four teams each in the Olympics, totalling 12 teams. The top two teams from each group make it to the knockout stage along with the best two of three third-place finishers in the 2020 Summer Olympics.
Tokyo 2020 Summer Men’s Olympic Groups Revealed
The confirmed teams of Group A will be the U.S., France, and Iran. As of right now, both the U.S. and France should be the favourites to win the group. The U.S. is the three-time defending Summer Olympic champions. However, in the quarterfinals of the 2019 FIBA World Cup, France eliminated the United States of America from the tournament.
— FIBA (@FIBA) September 11, 2019
Iran is the other team in the group. When counting Oceania teams (who play in Asian competitions), Iran has the second-highest ranking in Asia according to FIBA. However, they are ranked 23rd in the world while the US is ranked first, and France is ranked sixth. Furthermore, Iran unlike France and the USA does not have any NBA players, which will make it difficult for Iran to advance from the group stage.
Lastly, Iran will most likely have trouble with whomever they will face in the FIBA Men’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. The two front-runners to come out with an Olympic spot is either Canada (ranked 21st) or Greece (ranked seventh). Greece finished second in the 2006 FIBA World Cup, while Canada currently has the second-most NBA players by nationality according to the NBA. This includes players like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jamal Murray. Lastly, there is an outside chance of the Czech Republic (ranked 11th) or Turkey (ranked 15th) possibly making an upset and making the Summer Olympics.
Group B is the only Olympic basketball group to only have two teams confirmed to play in the Olympics. The two confirmed teams are Australia and Nigeria. Regardless of who advances from the other two Olympic qualifying tournaments, Australia will be the highest-ranked team in the tournament (they are currently ranked third in the world). Currently, Australia has the fourth-most NBA players by nationality, behind only Canada, the USA, and France. This includes Australian two-time NBA All-Star Ben Simmons.
— #NBAAllStar (@NBAAllStar) February 1, 2019
Nigeria will also be a tough team to beat. They are the highest-ranked African nation at 22nd and have six-seven NBA players. They are a dangerous dark horse that can make a few upsets in the Summer Olympics. It is unknown who the other two teams will be in the group. In Belgrade, Serbia, there are some good teams in that Olympic Qualifying Tournament, which includes teams like New Zealand (ranked 25th), Serbia (ranked fifth), and Italy (ranked 12th).
The other Olympic berth that will be in Group B will be determined in Split, Croatia. Either Croatia who is ranked 14th or Russia, who is ranked ninth are the favourites to win the group. Brazil is a dark-horse in the group as they are ranked 10th in the world. Group C might be the only group where all four teams may feel they have a good chance of making a deep run in the Olympics.
Argentina and Spain
Defending FIBA World Cup champions, Spain headlines Group C. Ranked second in the world, Spain’s league is considered one of the best leagues in the world. They also have five NBA players, which are the most of the three teams on this list. Argentina will be another tough team in the tournament. They are ranked fourth in the world. Argentina is famously remembered for eliminating the U.S. in the Summer Olympic semi-finals in 2004.
Argentina would end up winning the gold medal game over Italy in the 2004 Summer Olympics final. Unfortunately, unlike 2004, Argentina does not have any current NBA players. However, like Spain, Argentina should not be underestimated as they also have an extraordinarily strong local league. For example, the Argentinians lost to Spain in the 2019 FIBA World Cup Final.
Japan and the Summer Olympic Qualifier in Lithuania
The last confirmed team on this list is host nation Japan. Japan is ranked 41st in the world. It is the lowest of the eight teams confirmed so far in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. However, that ranking is deceiving as Japan has two NBA players. Most notably, Rui Hachimura, who is looking like the second-best ever Asian NBA player after Yao Ming. There is also Yuta Watanabe, who is making his name known with the Toronto Raptors in the 2020-21 NBA season. Japan is a rising basketball powerhouse in Asia and will surprise a lot of people in the 2020 Summer Olympics.
— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) December 21, 2020
Lastly, the Olympic qualifying group is in Kaunas, Lithuania. Lithuania, the hosts, are ranked eighth and are the favourites to move on. As mentioned before, basketball is like a second religion in Lithuania and could very easily advance to the Summer Olympics. Other teams that could advance are Poland and Slovenia. Poland is ranked 13th in the world and has six Olympic appearances, while Slovenia is ranked 16th in the world. They are the lowest-ranked of the three front-runners as they failed to qualify for the 2019 FIBA World Cup. However, they did win Eurobasket 2017 championships and have NBA All-Star in Luka Doncic.
Overview of the Tokyo Olympics Men’s Basketball Groups
There are a lot of storylines with all three groups. Yes, the U.S., like the previous times will be the favourite. However, it is not yet known if all the stars will commit to Team USA. Furthermore, the FIBA rules are different than the NBA, which showed in the 2019 FIBA World Cup as the U.S. struggled in that tournament.
Group A is the one that will interest many NBA fans. Not just because the U.S., is in the group. France, which eliminated the U.S., in the 2019 FIBA World Cup has the third-most NBA players. If Canada makes the Tokyo Summer Olympics, the countries with the first, second, and third-most NBA players will all be within one group according to the NBA. And even if Canada does not make the Olympics, there is Greece, who is home to the two-time defending Most Valuable Player of the Year Award, Giannis Antetokounmpo.
There is also Group B, which might be the group of death if both Serbia and Croatia make the Olympics. Then there is Group C, which has the defending FIBA World Cup champions Spain, the 2004 Summer Olympic champions and 2019 FIBA World Cup finalists Argentina, with rising Asian basketball nation of host nation Japan.
World Champion vibes…🇪🇸🏆
— FIBA (@FIBA) September 15, 2019
Of course, the Olympics may be cancelled if it does not take place this year. If this happens, it will likely take place before the Olympic qualifiers, cancelling those tournaments as well. However, as of right now, the Olympics are taking place. The Olympic qualifiers will take place from 22 June 2021 – 4 July 2021 while the Summer Olympics will take place from 25 July – 7 August.
— FIBA (@FIBA) February 2, 2021
Embed from Getty Images