The Men’s Olympic Basketball Tournament features many big names, intriguing matchups, and endless possibilities as the group stage of the tournament that is set to begin on July 25th, 2021, inches closer and closer.
Group A features the heavily favored Team USA that will have a roster full of NBA stars and a team looking for their seventh gold medal in the last eight Olympic Games. If Jerry Colangelo and his staff can continue to hold USA Basketball to their high standards, Team USA would have an easy road to winning the Group and likely the gold medal.
The teams in Group A at Tokyo 2020 include:
- France (World Rank: #7)
- Iran (World Rank: #23)
- United States ( World Rank: #1)
- TBD: Winner of Victoria Qualifier
France Men's Basketball: Breakdown & Predictions
France comes into the Tokyo games feeling good and being led by Rudy Gobert (Utah Jazz) and Evan Fournier (Boston Celtics). The French have some swagger in their game after obtaining a podium position from their performance in the FIBA Basketball World Cup in 2019.
The France men’s basketball team is truly a dark horse in the tournament this year that will be looking to play spoiler to the higher ranked countries medal hopes. Amath M’Baye (Pinar Karsiyaka, Turkish Super League) looks at the giants of the USA as an opportunity and not so much of a threat. M’Baye had this to say about Team USA after the 2019 World Cup,
“Unless It’s Lebron James or Michael Jordan, I’m not really impressed by anybody. It was not us thinking, ‘Oh my god, we’re playing against the USA.’ It was more about trying to accomplish our mission.”
The gentleman of France have had a lot of time to study, analyze, and practice for their upcoming matchup against the favored United States. Look for the French to make some noise in Tokyo this Summer.
Iran Men's Basketball: Breakdown & Predictions
The country of Iran is coming into Tokyo simply happy to be here. They are young and full of hope, defying their own country’s expectations as the Iran Basketball Federation President, Mahmoud Mashhoun did not expect these young men to qualify for the Olympics, saying,
"Our team is in good shape at the moment but we have a difficult task ahead of us," Iran Basketball Federation president Mahmoud Mashhoun said to the Mehr news agency, as reported in the Tehran Times. "I don't expect to qualify for the Olympics but on the other hand, I believe that nothing is impossible."
Depending on who comes out in the Victoria, Canada qualifier, Iran may come into the Tokyo games being the lowest ranked team in Group A. No matter the odds, expect the young and hungry Iran team to compete their hardest in every contest.
United States Men's Basketball: Breakdown & Predictions
The reigning Gold Medal recipients, Team USA has yet to determine their final roster for the Tokyo games. A roster that will be full of All Star NBA talent will be hard to beat by any team in any situation.
The biggest issue that many think the US face is always finding the right players who are committed to playing for the red, white, and blue. Jerry Colangelo feels that the challenge is already being overcome and headed in the right direction.
“For USA Basketball to receive the commitment of so many outstanding players," Colangelo said, "remains an indicator of the great honor of representing your country means to these men.”
Quite simply, the United States comes into the Tokyo games once again with lofty expectations. Anything less than a Gold Medal in 2021 would be seen as a disappointment.
TBD: Winner of Olympic Qualifying in Victoria, Canada
The last spot in Group A of the Men’s Olympic Basketball tournament is still to be determined. The chance to face off against France, Iran, and the US will be determined in a qualifying tournament held in Victoria, Canada that will go from June 29th to July 4th. The qualifying group features:
- Canada (World Rank: #21)
- China (World Rank: #29)
- Czech Republic (World Rank: #12)
- Greece (World Rank: #6)
- Turkey (World Rank: #15)
- Uruguay (World Rank: #45)
This qualifying group will be extremely competitive and any team that makes it out into Tokyo will be coming in looking to make noise and advance past the group stage.
The favored Greece in the qualifying will look to instill its’ dominance over the hometown but capable Canadian team. The winner of Group A, (Greece, China, and Canada) will be heavily favored in the Bracket stage.
Look for a possible matchup between Greece, led by the one and only Giannis Antetokounpo (Milwaukee Bucks), and the young Canadian squad with the dynamic duo of R.J. Barrett (New York Knicks) and Andrew Wiggins (Golden State Warriors). The team that will advance into Tokyo out of the qualifier will be the team with the most stars that shine in the tournament.