Group B of the Men’s Olympic basketball tournament features many what if scenarios. With two of the spots in Group B still up for grabs, the teams that win their respective qualifiers may have a monumental impact on the teams that advance into the knockout stage of the tournament.
Look for Australia to lead this group and there be a tight race for the #2 spot to advance.
The teams in Group A at Tokyo 2020 include:
- Australia (World Rank #3)
- Nigeria (World Rank #22)
- TBD: Winner of Split, Croatia Qualifier
- TBD: Winner of Belgrade, Serbia Qualifier
Australia Men's Basketball: Breakdown & Predictions
The Men’s Australian basketball team comes into Tokyo as the third best team in the sport. The team is led by experienced Patty Mills (San Antonio Spurs) and Joe Ingles (Utah Jazz) as well as by the two-time NBA All Star Ben Simmons (Philadelphia 76ers) who would be making his Olympic debut in 2021 if he decides to play.
The Aussies just missed out on a medal in the last Olympic games but are looking to make a deep run and obtain a podium position in this year’s tournament. The Australian team will be looking to make some heavy noise this year and capturing their long-awaited goal of a medal.
Mills and Ingles issued a joint statement in March,
"We are both excited to again be named in the Australian Boomers squad and we are determined to lead this group of both veteran experience and exciting younger talent to an elusive Olympic Medal."
The Boomers should easily get out of this group. The big question is, how far can this team go in the knockout round?
Nigeria Men's Basketball: Breakdown & Predictions
Nigeria rolls into the Olympics excited for the challenge ahead. Most people don’t think of Nigeria as a threat to challenge Australia in Group B, but their leader Ike Diogu who last played for the San Antonio Spurs in 2012, is confident and excited about the opportunity ahead,
"I don't think there are any easy draws, every team we are going play it's going be really good. These are the 12 best teams in the world. We're looking forward to the challenge."
Diogu is the absolute leader and conductor for the Nigerian Men’s Olympic team. He is 37 years old, but is coming off being named the 2017 FIBA AfroBasket Most Valuable Player. The D’Tigers may come into Tokyo with low expectations, but the members in their locker room are poised to improve on the country’s 2-8 record in Olympic competition.
Split, Croatia Qualifier: Breakdown & Predictions
The Split, Croatia Men’s Basketball qualifier will feature the countries of Brazil, Croatia, Germany, Mexico, Russia, and Tunisia. This qualifier will most likely be a battle between Russia who is #9 in the world and Brazil who is ranked #11.
While Brazil has more age and experience, look for Russia to exploit that and take this qualifier and advance to the Tokyo games. Qualifying starts on the 29th of June. This should feature some close games but ultimately whoever makes it out of this qualifier will have an uphill climb in the group stage come the Olympics.
Belgrade, Serbia Qualifier: Breakdown & Predictions
Belgrade, Serbia welcomes a qualifier from the 29th of June to the 4th of July to see who advances into Group B for the Tokyo Games. Dominican Republic, Philippines, and Serbia are in Group A and Puerto Rico, Italy, and Senegal are in Group B for the qualifier.
The Serbian qualifier will feature the home team in the championship. I do not see them facing anyone else except the Italians for a chance to go to Tokyo.
The Serbian Men’s National Team comes into tournament play as the #5 ranked team in the world. They will look to uphold that standing on home soil and well into the Tokyo games.