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Czechs overtake Greece to secure last place at Tokyo Olympics

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Photo by Fiba

BELGRADE – The Czech Republic became the latest team to seal a spot in the Tokyo Olympics men’s basketball tournament after beating Greece 97-72 in the final of their qualifying event on Sunday.

Patrik Auda led the charge with 20 points as the Czechs, who upset tournament host Canada 103-101 in Saturday’s thrilling semi-final, will join champions USA, France and Iran in Group A at the 23rd Olympics. July to August 8.

Italy, European champions Slovenia and Germany sealed their own spots in Tokyo on Sunday morning. The Italians stunned 2016 silver medalist Serbia 102-95, Slovenia beat Lithuania 96-85 and Germany beat Brazil 75-64 in tournaments played across Europe.

Italy and Germany will join Australia and Nigeria in Group B of the Games, while Slovenia, which qualified for the Olympics for the first time as an independent nation, is heading to Group C alongside world champions Spain, Argentina and the host Japan.

Serbia was left without regular season NBA MVP Nikola Jokic, who withdrew from the qualifying tournament due to fatigue, and the home team missed the Denver Nuggets center against Italy.

The Italians built a 25-point lead midway through the third quarter after scoring nine 3-pointers in the first half and then held on to a late Serbian rally to reach their first Olympics since Athens 2004, when they won the silver medal.

Guard Nicolo Mannion led the Italians with 24 points, Achille Polonara added 22 and Simone Fontecchio contributed 21 as Serbia’s porous defense couldn’t cope with the long-range shots and offensive rebounds from their rivals.

Having won the European title in 2017, Slovenia advanced thanks to an effervescent performance from Dallas Mavericks point guard Luka Doncic, who racked up 31 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds against the Lithuanians.

After a balanced first half, Slovenia withdrew in the second and silenced local fans in Kaunas when 22-year-old Doncic pulled all the strings to win the tournament’s Most Valuable Player award.

“I don’t care about the MVP award because what matters is that we won the tournament and made it to the Olympics for the first time,” Doncic said delightedly in an on-court interview.

“Like all children in Slovenia, I too dreamed all my life of being in the Olympics. We are a small nation but we have a lot of potential and we have made history here. “

Germany eliminated host Croatia in Split on Saturday and followed up with an excellent defensive performance against Brazil, leading throughout the low-scoring contest.

Moritz Wagner stood out with 28 points for the Germans, the game’s high, while Brazilian guard Vitor Benite scored just nine at the other end after he was limited to making just three of 18 shots from the field.


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