The Olympic Qualifying Tournaments keep going Wednesday on both sides of the Atlantic with Turkish Airlines EuroLeague and 7DAYS EuroCup players taking on key roles for their respective nations. Canada, Turkey, Brazil and Serbia locked first place in their groups. Slovenia, Venezuela and Poland reached the semi-finals at the OQT Kaunas, and Mexico did the same at the OQT Split. Puerto Rico and Italy directly advanced to the OQT Belgrade semi-finals due to Senegal's last-minute withdrawal due to COVID-19 related issues. They seek to join Japan, Nigeria, Argentina, United States, Iran, France, Spain and Australia, which have already qualified to the 20th Olympic Basketball Tournament at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
OQT Kaunas: Slovenia debuts with 50-point victory
Slovenia qualified to the OQT Kaunas semi-finals by overwhelming Angola 68-118 in Group B at Zalgirio Arena. Angola lost twice already, which means Poland and Lithuania are set to keep fighting for an Olympic berth at Tokyo 2020. Zoran Dragic of TD Systems Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz led 8 Slovenian players in double digits with 16 points. Former EuroLeague MVP Luka Doncic added 13, 6 rebounds, 9 assists and 5 steals, Mike Tobey of Valencia Basket and Luka Rupnik of Cedevita Olimpija Ljubljana each had 12 points while Edo Muric also of Olimpija got 10 for the winners, that led 9-33 at the end of the first quarter, boosted its margin to 30-64 at halftime and did not find any trouble to add its first win. In Group A, Venezuela also made it to the semi-finals by topping South Korea 94-80.
OQT Split: Brazil locks first place, Mexico advances
Mexico bounced back from its initial loss in Group A by topping Russia 72-64 at Spaladium Arena behind 21 points from Pako Cruz. Two-time EuroLeague champion Gustavo Ayon added 11 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists. Semen Antonov of CSKA Moscow led Russia with 13 points. Three-time EuroLeague champion Andrey Vorontsevich and Ivan Ukhov of CSKA gave Russia a 31-36 edge at halftime. Mexico used a 13-0 run to get the lead, 50-43, at the end of the third quarter. Russia kept struggling to score and Paul Stoll struck from downtown to seal the outcome, 65-56, with under 3 minutes left, qualifying to the semi-finals. Brazil clinched first place in Group B and qualified to the next round by thrashing Croatia 94-67. Rafael Hettsheimeir led 5 Brazilian players in double digits with 20 points. Bojan Bogdanovic had 16 points for Croatia. Brazil led 23-10 early but Ante Zizic of Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv stepped up to bring Croatia within 25-20 after 10 minutes. Brazil boosted its margin to 45-34 at halftime and then again to 71-55 soon at the end of the third quarter, enough to control the game and cruise to first place in its group.
OQT Belgrade: Undefeated Serbia is first in Group A
Serbia clinched first place in Group A by edging Philippines 83-76 in Group A at Aleksandar Nikolic Hall. Former All-EuroLeague center Boban Marjanovic led Serbia with 25 points and 10 rebounds. Ognjen Dobric of Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade added 16, Milos Teodosic of Virtus Segafredo Bologna had 13 while Danilo Andjusic got 12 for the winners. Dobric had 8 quick points to give Serbia a 13-4 lead. Dobric kept pacing Serbia, getting help from Marjanovic to make it a double-digit game, 32-18. Philippines rallied and briefly took the lead, 73-74, with less than 4 minutes left. Marjanovic followed a dunk with a couple of layups and soon scored again for a 81-76 Serbian lead with 36 seconds left, enough to seal the win.
OQT Victoria: Canada, Turkey win again
Turkey climed first place in Group B by downing the Czech Republic 87-70 behind 20 points from Furkan Korkmaz. Malih Mahmutoglu of Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul added 13 for the winners. Tomas Satoransky led the Czech offense with 15 points while Jan Vesely also of Fenerbahce had 13 and 11 rebounds. Turkey won all four quarters, leading 17-14 after 10 minutes, 45-38 at halftime, and 63-54 at the end of the third period. Ersan Ilyasova and Mahmutoglu fueled a 14-3 run that sealed the outcome, 85-66, in the next-to-last minute. Canada also locked the first spot in Group A by thrashing China 109-79. Andrew Wiggins led 7 Canadian players in double digits with 20 points. As such, do-or-die games are played tomorrow: China vs. Greece in Group A and Czech Republic vs. Uruguay in Group B.