The Tokyo 2020 Men's Olympic Basketball Tournament is finally here, and as always, there will be plenty of Turkish Airlines EuroLeague and 7DAYS EuroCup stars at the event!
After postponement due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Olympics are being staged a year late. The men's basketball competition will be held at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, which was home to World Cup back in 2006. Seven teams – Argentina, Australia, France, Iran, Nigeria, Spain and United States – qualified through the 2019 World Cup, joining host squad Japan. The remaining four teams – Czech Republic, Germany, Italy and Slovenia – won their respective Olympic Qualifying Tournaments earlier this summer. More than 35 players currently on EuroLeague and EuroCup rosters for next season are set to compete in Tokyo. Six are among the 10 former EuroLeague champions at the event, while two of those six and three more Olympians have been EuroCup champions in the past.
The competition system has changed to avoid playing too many games in the first week. As such, the 12 teams were split into three groups of four teams, instead of two groups of six as in the past. The first- and second-placed teams in each group and the two best third-placed teams will advance. Those eight remaining teams will be seeded according to their results and a draw will determine the quarterfinals matchups. The quarterfinals, semifinals and finals – gold- and bronze-medal games – retain the tournament's traditional single-game knock-out format.
United States, France, Iran and the Czech Republic were drawn into Group A. Led by Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Damian Lillard, USA is the perennial favorite for the gold medal. France will be powered by five EuroLeague players, including three of them – Thomas Heurtel, Vincent Poirier, and Guerschon Yabusele – from Real Madrid. Moustapha Fall of Olympiacos and Nando De Colo of Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul also will be with Les Bleus, as will Andrew Albicy of Herbalife Gran Canaria. Former EuroLeague MVP Jan Vesely of Fenerbahce leads the Czech Republic along with Tomas Satoransky and former EuroCup winner Blake Schilb. As in recent years, Hamed Haddadi is set to lead Iran.
Group B features Australia, Germany, Italy and Nigeria. Australia, looking for its first-ever Olympic medal, features former EuroLeague winner Joe Ingles and one-time EuroLeague players Aron Baynes, Duop Reath and Jock Landale. Germany has as many as six current EuroLeague players: Danilo Barthel of Fenerbahce, Johannes Thiemann and Maodo Lo of ALBA Berlin, Andreas Obst of FC Bayern Munich, Niels Giffey of Zalgiris Kaunas and Johannes Voigtmann of CSKA Moscow. Italy is back to the Olympics for the first time since winning a silver medal in 2004, and has three AX Armani Exchange Milan players: Nicolo Melli, Riccardo Moraschini and Giampolo Ricci. Simone Fontecchio of Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz and Achille Polonara of Fenerbahce round out the Italian squad along with two Virtus Segafredo Bologna players, Alessandro Pajola and Amedeo Tessitori. Both of them will go against former EuroLeague Final Four MVP Ekpe Udoh, who just signed for Virtus and is playing for Nigeria.
Spain, Argentina, Slovenia, and Japan are ready for a big battle in Group C. Spain looks for its fourth consecutive Olympic medal, led by Pau Gasol, Sergio Rodriguez of Milan, Alex Abrines of FC Barcelona, Victor Claver of Valencia Basket, and four Real Madrid players: Sergio Llull, Usman Garuba, Rudy Fernandez and Alberto Abalde. Former EuroLeague superstars Facu Campazzo and Luis Scola lead Argentina, which also has Leandro Bolmaro of Barcelona and Nico Brussino of Gran Canaria. Spain beat Argentina in the 2019 World Cup final. Slovenia is led by former EuroLeague MVP Luka Doncic and as many as six EuroCup players: Edo Muric, Ziga Dimec, Luka Rupnik and Jaka Blazic of Cedevita Olimpija Ljubljana, as well as Mike Tobey and Klemen Prepelic of Valencia. Rui Hachimura leads Japan into its first Olympic experience since 1976.
Real Madrid, with seven players, has more respresentatives at the Men's Olympic Basketball Tournament than any other club in the world. Fenerbahce has four players on as many different national teams, more than any other club, while Milan, Barcelona, and ALBA also have multiple players at Tokyo 2020. Olympiacos, Zalgiris, CSKA, and Bayern each have one player in the tournament. Cedevita leads all EuroCup teams with four players in Tokyo. Valencia and Virtus each have three, and Umana Reyer Venice has one – Stefano Tonut of Italy.
The stage is set and the action starts on Sunday, July 25. The gold-medal game is scheduled for Saturday, August 7 at 04:30 CET. Get ready for the Olympics and follow our Men's Olympic Basketball Tournament coverage right here on EuroLeague.net and EuroCupBasketball.com!