USA Olympic Basketball 101

The Olympics happen every four years and is a great opportunity for athletes all over the world to come and compete against the best. In the Olympic’s Basketball competition many different countries put together a team of their best players to compete.

In 1974, the USA Basketball organization was created, but at that time, it was known as the Amateur Basketball Association of the United States of America (ABAUSA). The professional basketball players were not allowed to play in international competitions as ruled by the International Basketball Federation (FIBA). But Boris Stankovic did not feel that the rule was fair, so he did what he could to convince the FIBA to change it. Stankovic based his argument on two reasons, he said, “Our competition was closed to the NBA players, but no one else. That seems immoral. The second is very simple. Our feeling is that only by playing the best players in the world can everyone else make progress. If you are from another country and you can run a race against Carl Lewis, maybe you don’t have a chance. But you still want to run.” On October 12, 1989 the rules were changed and the ABAUSA became known as USA Basketball. In the next Olympics, in 1992, the USA team was created with the top NBA players and one college student. The team became known as the “Dream Team” and changed basketball forever. Since 1992, basketball became more popular all over the world.

USA Basketball is an organization made up of other organizations that are divided into 5 categories. These categories include:

    1. Professional
      • National Basketball Association (NBA) – as of 1989
      • National Basketball Association Development League
      • Women’s National Basketball Association
    2. Collegiate:
      • National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics
      • National Collegiate Athletic Association
      • National Junior College Athletic Association
    3. Scholastic
      • National Federation of State High School Associations
    4. Youth
      • Amateur Athletic Union
    5. Associate
      • Athletes In Action
      • Basketball Travelers
      • College Commissioners Association
      • Gazelle Group
      • Harlem Globetrotters
      • International Sports Exchange
      • Latin-American Basketball League of Los Angeles
      • National Amateur Basketball Association
      • National Association of Basketball Coaches
      • National Basketball Players Association
      • National Junior College Basketball Coach Association
      • National Junior College Women’s Coach Association
      • National Wheelchair Basketball Association
      • USA  Deaf Sports Federation
      • United States Armed Forces
      • Women’s Basketball Coaches Association

In USA Basketball there is a Board of Directors that is made up of 11 members. The Board of Directors are responsible for the selection, training, and fielding of USA teams that will be competing in international basketball competitions sponsored by the FIBA, and national competitions. These competitions include the Olympics, FIBA World Championships, FIBA American Championships, Pan American Games, World University Games, U19 and U17 World Championships, and the Nike Hoop Summit.

There is a lot that goes into the process of Olympic Basketball. Only 12 teams earn an Olympic berth, meaning earn a place in the Olympic games and getting the chance to compete. Two spots are saved and automatically given out to the country that is hosting the Olympics (who usually gets the first berth), and the other is given to the reigning FIBA World Champion. Then seven berths are given to the champions of each FIBA tournament in the five geographic divisions. These include

  • Two from Europe
  • Two from North and South America
  • One from Africa
  • One from Asia
  • One from “Oceania” – essentially, Australia and New Zealand

The other 3 spots are given to the top 3 countries from the Olympic Qualifying Tournament. The process of qualifying for a berth to the Olympics takes place during the years between each Olympics.

After the 12 countries are decided, in the summer of the Olympic year, the players are chosen by the Board of Directors and the training begins. Some may think that picking the players for the USA Olympic team would be easy, just pick the top players in the NBA. Well it is not exactly that simple. Some of the NBA players are from other countries and during the summers, when the season is over, they will return home to play for their home country. For example, just to name a few, Dirk Nowitzki returns to Germany and will play for Germany’s basketball team,  Tony Parker returns to France, and Manu Ginobili returns to Argentina. When the teams are picked they are then divided into two pools, Group A and Group B, and will compete against each other in a few practice games. When the Olympic games begin each team will play the other 5 teams in the same pool during the first round, called the preliminary round. In the Olympics each team is rewarded 2 points for a win and 1 point for a loss. At the end of the preliminary round the points are added up and the top 4 teams from each pool will progress to the quarterfinals, which is the first of the knockout rounds till the medals are determined. The 8 teams will compete is a win or go home scenario, which continues into the semifinals and finals. The third place team will win the Bronze medal, the Silver goes to the second place team, and the first place team receives the Gold.

To give you an idea of how many NBA players go to play for their home countries here is the team rosters for the twelve 2012 Olympic teams:

Group A:

United States of America (USA): Chris Paul (Los Angeles Clippers), Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers), LeBron James (Miami Heat), Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder), Tyson Chandler (New York Knicks), Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder), Deron Williams (Brooklyn Nets), James Harden (Oklahoma City Thunder), Carmelo Anthony (New York Knicks), Andre Iquodala (Philadelphia 76ers), Anthony Davis (New Orleans Hornets), and Kevin Love (Minnesota Timberwolves)

Argentina (ARG): Pablo Prigioni (New York Knicks), Manu Ginobili (San Antonio Spurs), Carlos Delfino (Milwaukee Bucks), Luis Scola (Phoenix Suns), Juan Gutierrez (CB Granada – Spain), Facundo Campazzo (Penarol – Argentina), Heran Jasen (MMT Estudiantes – Spain), Marcos Mata (Penarol Mar del Plata – Argentina), Andres Nocioni (Caja Laboral, ACB – Spain), Leo Gutierrez (Penarol de Mar Del Plata – Spain), Federico Kammerichs (Regatas Corrientes, LNB – Argentina), Martin Leiva (Penarol)

France (FRA): Tony Parker (San Antonio Spurs), Nando De Colo (Valencia, ACB – Spain), Nicolas Batum (Portland Trail Blazers), Boris Diaw (San Antonio Spurs), Kevin Seraphin (Washington Wizards), Yannick Bokolo (Gravelines-Dunkerque, LNB – France), Fabien Causeur (Cholet, LNB – France), Mickael Gelablae (BC Khimki Moscou, PBA – Russia), Yakhouba Diaware (Pallacanestro Varese, LegA – Italy), Florent Pietrus (Valencia Basket Club, S.A.D. – Spain), Ali Traore (Lokomotiv Kouban-Krasnodar – Russia), Ronny Turiaf (Miami Heat)

Lithuania (LTU): Sarunas Jasikevicius (Panathinaikos – Greece), Martynas Pocius (Real Madrid – Spain), Linas Kleiza (Toronto Raptors), Darius Songaila (Blancos de Rueda – Spain), Jonas Valanciunas (Toronto Raptors), Mantas Kalnietis (Zalgiris Kaunas – Lithuania), Rimantas Kaukenas (Montepaschi Siena – Italy), Renaldas Seibutis (Lietuvos Rytas – Lithuania), Simas Jasaitis (Lokomotiv-Kuban – Russia), Jonas Maciulis (Montepaschi Siena), Paulius Jankunas (Zalgiris Kaunas), Antanas Kavaliauskas (VEF Riga – Latvia)

Nigeria (NGR): Anthony Skinn (Ironi Ashkelon – Israel), Chamberlain Oguchi(Panateras de Miranda – Venezuela), Al-Farouq Aminu (New Orleans Hornets), Ike Diogu (Captinas de Arecibo – Puerto Rico), Alade Aminu (Elan Chalon, LNB – France), Richard Dean Oruche (Academica – Puerto Rico), Ade Dagunduro (Stella Artois Leuven Bears – Belgium), Derrick Obasohan (Joventut de Badalona – Spain), Ejike Christopher Ubjaoa (Janseh Tarabor Qomi – Iran), Koko Archibong (LTI Giessen 46ers – Germany), Ekene Ibekwe (BBC Bayreuth – Germany), Olumide Oyedeji (Quingdao Double Star – China)

Tunisia (TUN): Marouan Kechrid (US Monastir – Tunisia), Mourad El Mabrouk (Eszahra Sport – Tunisia), Macram Ben Romdhane (Etoile Sportive du Sahel – Tunisia), Mohamed Hadidane (Stade Nabeulien – Tunisia), Salah Mejri (Etoile Sportive du Sahel), Marouan Laghnej (J.S. Kairouan, D1 – Tunisia), Omar Abada (E.S.R. Rades – Tunisia), Lassaad Chouaya (Club Africain – Tunisia), Amine Maghrebi (Eszahra Sport), Amine Rzig (Etoile Sportive du Sahel), Radhouane Slimane (An Nasr Dubai, D1 – United Arab Emirates), Mohamed Ghyaza (ES Rades – Tunisia)

Group B

Austrailia (AUS): Adam Gibson (Gold Coast Blaze – Australia), Patrick Mills (San Antonio Spurs), Brad Newley (Valencia Basket – Spain), Matt Nielsen (BC Khimki, PBL – Russia), Aleks Maric (Panathinaikos Athens, A1 – Greece), Matt Dellavedova (St. Mary’s College), Peter Crawford (Townsville Crocodiles – Australia), Joe Ingles (Regal FC Barcelona, ACB – Spain), David Barlow (UCAM Murcia Basketball, ACB – Spain), Mark Worthington (Gold Coast Blaze), Aron Baynes (Ikaros Kallitheas, A1 – Greece)

Spain (ESP): Jose Calderon (Toronto Raptors), Juan-Carlos Navarro (FC Barcelona, ACB – Spain), Rudy Fernandez (Real Madrid, ACB – Spain), Pau Gasol (Los Angeles Lakers), Marc Gasol (Memphis Grizzlies), Sergio Rodriguez (Real Madrid), Victor Sada (FC Barcelona), Sergio Llull (Real Madrid), Fernando San Emeterio (Caja Laboral – Spain), Victor Claver (Portland Trail Blazers), Felipe Reyes (Real Madrid), Serge Ibaka (Oklahoma City Thunder)

Brazil (BRA): Marcelo Machado (Flamengo, NBB – Brazil), Leandro Barbosa (Indiana Pacers), Guilherme Giovannoni (Barsilia, NBB – Brazil), Tiago Splitter (San Antonio Spurs), Nene Hilario (Washington Wizards), Marcelinho Huertes (Regal FC Barcelona, ACB – Spain), Raul Neto (Minas Tenis Clube, NBB – Brazil), Larry Taylor (Flamengo – Brazil), Alex Garcia (Brasilia), Marcus Vieira (Pinheiros – Brazil), Anderson Varejao (Cleveland Caveliers), Caio Torries (Flamengo)

China (CHN): Jianghua Chen (Guandong Southern Tigers, CBA – China), Shipen Wang (Guandong Southern Tigers), Yue Sun (Beijing Aoshen Olympian Ducks, WCPBL), Jianlian Yi (Dallas Mavericks), Zhizhi Wang (Bayi Rockets, CBA – China), Wei Lui (Shanghai Sharks, CBA – China), Ailun Guo (Liaoning Hunters – China), Li Yi (Guandong Southerm Tigers), Fangyu Zhu (Guandong Southern Tigers), Jinhui Ding (Zhejiang Wanma Cyclones, CBA – China), Peng Zhou (Guandong Southern Tigers), Zhaoxu Zhang (Shainghai Sharks)

Great Britain (GBR): Andrew Lawrence (College of Charleston), Kyle Johnson (Long Island University), Luol Deng (Chicago Bulls), Joel Freeland (Portland Trail Blazers), Pops Mensah Bonsu (Besiktas – Turkey), Nate Reinking (Mons Hainaut, D1 – Belgium), Mike Lenzly (Cez Nymburk – Czech Republic), Andrew Sullivan (Mersey Tigers, BBL – Great Britain), Kieron Achara, Robert Archibald (Unicaja Malaga, ACB – Spain), Daniel Clark (Estudientes Madrid, ACB – Spain), Eric Boateng (Peristeri, A1 – Greece),

Russia (RUS): Vitaliy Fridzon (Khimki Moscow Region – Russia), Aleksey Shved (Minnesota Timberwolves), Victor Khryapa (CSKA Moscow – Russia), Andrei Kirilenko (Minnesota Timberwolves), Timofey Mozgov (Denver Nuggets), Dmitriy Khvostov (Khimki Moscow Region), Anton Ponkrashov (CSKA Moscow), Evgeny Voronov (CSKA Moscow), Semen Antonov (BC Nizhny Novgorod – Russia), Sergey Monya (Khimki Moscow Region), Alexander Kaun (CSKA Moscow)

Resources:

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1272807-olympic-basketball-2012-team-by-team-rosters-brackets-medal-predictions#/articles/1272807-olympic-basketball-2012-team-by-team-rosters-brackets-medal-predictions

http://www.ksee24.com/olympics101/Olympics-101-Basketball-161161405.html

http://www.usabasketball.com/history/why_can_pros_compete.html

http://www.usabasketball.com/about/members.html

http://basketball.about.com/od/internationalbasketball/a/How-Basketball-Teams-Qualify-For-The-Olympics.htm

http://www.usabasketball.com/mens/national/12_moly_results.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/olympics/7904053/London-2012-Olympics-basketball-guide.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basketball_at_the_2012_Summer_Olympics

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