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Qualified Team Focus – Spain: Can they get back to Olympics for seventh straight time?

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MIES (Switzerland) – It is now time to meet the six teams in this FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament 2024 Spain with the dream of becoming Olympic champions this summer.

Here is the number 2 team in the FIBA World Ranking Men, presented by Nike, the four-time Olympic medalists Spain. The Europeans are one of four countries to win three silver medals at the Olympics – Soviet Union – 4, Yugoslavia 3, and France 3 being the others. The Spanish went home with silver medals in 1984, 2008 and 2012 and claimed bronze in 2016.

How they qualified

 

Spain had hoped to defend their crown at the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 with the start going as planned with wins over Côte d’Ivoire, Brazil and Iran in the first group stage. The second group stage in Jakarta did not go as planned.

Spain were first knocked off by Latvia 74-69 and then two days later Canada sealed the Europeans’ fate with an 88-85 victory that sent Spain home before even reaching the Knockout Phase. 

Spain eventually finished in ninth place at the FIBA World Cup. That qualified them for the OQTs as one of the best 16 remaining teams that did not advance directly to the Summer Olympics and were not the highest-ranked team from each Africa, Americas and Asia and Oceania.

Spain were then selected to be hosting one of the OQTs, with six nations coming to Valencia from July 2-7, 2024. The winner of the OQT will book a spot at Paris 2024.

Record at the Olympics

Appearances: 12 -1960 (14th); 1968 (7th); 1972 (11th); 1980 (4th); 1984 (2nd); 1988 (8th); 1992 (9th); 2000 (9th); 2004 (7th); 2008 (2nd); 2012 (2nd); 2016 (3rd); 2020 (6th)

Medals: 4 – 🥈(1984, 2008, 2012) 🥉(2016)

Recent OQT history*

* Since 2008

For the last four Olympics, Spain has managed to book a ticket directly for the Olympics. This time around they will need to go through an OQT. And while it will be an extra challenge prior to the Olympics for Spain, if the country does qualify, Scariolo’s team will have played high stakes games in the build-up rather than only exhibitions contests and can consider itself better battle-tested.

Last Olympics appearance 

Spain entered the Tokyo Games having won medals at three straight Olympics. The Spanish defeated Japan 88-77 and Argentina 81-71 in the first two games of the group stage. In the third game, Slovenia pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 95-87 victory over Spain.

The Spanish were unfortunate that they met USA in the Quarter-Finals. The Europeans built a 10-point lead midway through the second quarter but then watched the Americans run away over the next 10 minutes of action. Spain were never able to make it close the rest of the way, and the country’s run of three straight Olympics with a medal ended with a sixth placed finish.

That was also the Spain farewell of the legendary brother duo of Pau and Marc Gasol.

The OQT Group Phase 

Spain will undoubtedly be the favorite going into the OQT thanks also to the home crowd in Valencia. Sergio Scariolo’s team will start the tournament against Lebanon and then face Angola a day later in Group A.

Group B does have two fellow European teams – Finland and Poland as well as a Bahamas side that shockingly defeated Argentina in the Olympic Pre-Qualifying Tournament 2023 Argentina to eliminate the 2019 FIBA World Cup runners-up.

All three of those teams also will be extra motivated as Finland have not played at the Olympics since 1964 and Poland since 1980 while Bahamas would make a historic first appearance. Plus, Spain and Poland faced off in the FIBA World Cup 2019 Quarter-Finals with Spain winning 90-78 – meaning Poland would love a bit of revenge.

Spain OQT games

vs Lebanon (July 2)
vs Angola (July 3)

Players to watch

Sergio Scariolo will have an embarrassment of riches from which to choose. There are the brothers Willy and Juancho Hernangomez, Santiago Aldama and Usman Garuba to move forward as real leaders. Ricky Rubio has returned to the game so he should be available, and the veteran point guard is the ultimate leader.

There are also players such as Alex Abrines, Alberto Diaz, Dario Brizuela and Juan Nunez. And what can you expect from the likes of Sergio Llull and Rudy Fernandez? Will the ageless ones get the call for one more go around? Scariolo has so many pieces to try to form a great puzzle.

Qualified Team Focus series

During coming weeks and months, we will continue to check out all teams ready to step out as part of our Qualified Team Focus series.

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