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Greece, Italy advance to Olympic Qualifying Tournaments

Germany Basketball Europeans

Turkey’s Semih Erden, left, and Melih Mahmutoglu, second left, challenge for the ball with Italy’s Marco Belinelli, right, during the EuroBasket European Basketball Championship group B match between Italy and Turkey in Berlin, Germany, Saturday, Sept. 5, 2015. (AP Photo/Axel Schmidt)


EuroBasket’s main event today – France vs. Spain for a berth in the 2016 Rio Olympics – comes later in the afternoon. Serbia and Lithuania will meet tomorrow with the same prize on the line.

In the meantime, Greece and Italy continued their pursuit of Olympic bids with victories today.

Greece beat Latvia, 97-90. Italy beat Czech Republic, 85-70.

The wins guarantee Greece and Italy will be among 18 teams vying for three Olympic spots at next year’s Olympic Qualifying Tournaments. The France-Spain and Serbia-Lithuania losers will also reach the Olympic Qualifying Tournaments.

Latvia and Czech Republic will play tomorrow for the fifth and final guaranteed berth in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament from EuroBasket.

Italy (Andrea Bargnani, Danilo Gallinari and Marco Belinelli) definitely has the talent to win a Qualifying Tournament and reach the Olympics. So does Greece, especially if Giannis Antetokounmpo makes major strides this season.

Really, both teams were good enough to finish top two in EuroBasket this year and secure a 2016 Olympic appearance. They might be kicking themselves about the missed opportunity, but at least they’ll have another chance next summer.