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  1. 2012 London Olympics: Men's Basketball Quarterfinals Get Underway

    The crucial single-game quarterfinal round of the men’s basketball competitions in the 30th London Olympics unwraps on August 8 (Manila time, starting 9:00 p.m.).

    The four quarterfinal matchups with a knockout format are: Group B second-placer Brazil (4-1) vs. Group A third-placer Argentina (3-2), the defending gold medalist and Group A topnotcher United States (5-0) vs. Group B fourth-placer Australia (3-2), Group A second-placer France (4-1) vs. Group B third-placer Spain (3-2), and Group B topnotcher Russia (4-1) vs. Group A fourth-placer Lithuania (2-3).

    The semifinals, to be held August 11 (Manila time, 12 a.m. and 4 a.m.), will feature the Brazil vs. Argentina winner against the U.S. vs. Australia winner, and the France vs. Spain winner vs. the Russia vs. Lithuania winner.

    The semifinal victors will play against each other in the gold-medal game on August 12 (Manila time, 10 p.m.). *The bronze-medal game between the two semifinal losers will be held four hours earlier.

    During yesterday’s final playdate of the round-robin preliminary phase, Lithuania beat winless Tunisia (0-5), 76-63, France downed Nigeria (1-4), 79-73, and the U.S. crushed Argentina, 126-97, in Group A while Australia upset Russia, 82-80, host Great Britain (1-4) toppled China (0-5), 90-58, and *Brazil came from behind to beat Spain, 88-82, in Group B.

    In Nigeria’s loss to France, former Philippine Basketball Association import Chamberlain (Champ) Oguchi (Meralco, 2010-11) exploded for 35 points. *The 6-4, 26-year-old Oguchi, an Illinois State University product who was born in Houston, Texas, shot 8-for-14 from three-point range.

    In beating Spain, Brazil was “rewarded” with a tougher schedule ahead. *The Brazilians will take on Argentina during the “one-loss-and-you’re-out” quarterfinals in a rematch of the 2011 Tournament of the Americas finals.

    A side attraction: *Argentine-born coach Ruben Magnano, who piloted his country to a gold-medal finish during the 2004 Athens Olympics, is now Brazil’s bench boss, having steered the Brazilians to their first Olympic stint since the 1996 Atlanta Games.

    If Brazil somehow survives past reigning TOA champion Argentina, it will face Team USA, which is heavily favored against quarters foe Australia, in the semifinals.

    By losing to Brazil, two-time European titlist Spain got an easier quarterfinal assignment against France and avoided a potential confrontation with the NBA-dominated American team until the gold-medal game.

    Four years ago in Beijing, China, America’s “Redeem Team” scored a 118-107 decision over the Spaniards in the Olympic men’s basketball finals to regain the gold. *Argentina, the gold medalist during the 2004 Athens Games, settled for the bronze with an 87-75 win over Lithuania.

    This year, it could well be Team USA vs. Russia in the gold-medal duel – a rematch of their much-publicized 1972 encounter in the violence-marred Munich Olympics where the former Soviet Union broke the Americans’ 63-game winning streak in Olympic men’s basketball with a controversial 51-50 victory in the finals.
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  2. Spain vs. Brazil: *Who wants to win?

    Following a hard-earned 99-94 win over fourth-placer Lithuania last August 4, Team USA (4-0) will seek to complete a sweep of its five-game preliminary-round assignments in Group A against Argentina (3-1) on August 7 (Manila time, 5:15 a.m.). *France (3-1), whose lone defeat came at the hands of the Americans, 98-71, on opening day, will play Nigeria (1-3) and Lithuania (1-3) will take on winless Tunisia (0-4).

    In Group B, Russia (4-0) upset 2008 Beijing Olympics silver medalist Spain, 77-74, and is assured of first place in its group. *On the final day of the preliminary phase on August 6-7, Russia tangles with Australia (2-2); Spain (3-1) clashes with Brazil (3-1); and host Great Britain (0-4) faces China (0-4) in a battle of winless teams.

    The Spain vs. Brazil encounter should be very interesting.

    Neither team wants to face the United States before the semifinals or medal round.

    The winner of the Spain vs. Brazil first-round match will have to play gold medal favorite United States in the semifinals. *The loser ironically will dodge a bullet and avoid meeting the defending men’s basketball medalists until the gold-medal game.

    That is assuming both Spain and Brazil survive the crucial one-game knockout quarterfinal round.

    Will brothers Pau and Marc Gasol and the Spaniards “tank” it? *We”ll find out when their game against the Brazilians takes place on August 7 (Manila time, 3:00 a.m.)

    Note that there are more classification-round games for 9th to 12 places and 5th to 8th places in Olympic men’s basketball. *The basis for the final rankings of the eliminated teams is their overall win-loss records.
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  3. U.S. Cagers' 83-point Win over Nigeria is not a Record

    During the 1948 London Olympics, the Philippines posted a 102-30 victory over Iraq in its opening assignment to become the first team ever to reach the century mark in Olympic men's basketball history.

    The rub of the schedule gave the distinction to the Filipinos as Chile (100-1, Korea (120-20) and China (125-25), then represented by the Nationalist Republic of China (now called Taiwan), subsequently also reached the 100-point plateau against winless Iraq (0-5) in the Filipinos' preliminary six-nation group.

    Additionally, Korea and China’s 100-point winning margins against Iraq are the biggest in Olympic men’s basketball history.

    In the ongoing Olympic competitions again in London, the NBA-dominated United States team zoomed to its third consecutive victory in its six-nation Group A preliminary phase, a 156-73 blasting of African power Nigeria last August 2.

    While the Americans' smashing win set various Olympic men's basketball records, it was far short of the hundreds of records that the Fabulous Four from Liverpool, England collectively known as the Beatles made and accomplished during their musical heyday in the 1960s and early 1970s.

    In the lopsided game, forward Carmelo Anthony came off the bench to collect a U.S. team Olympic record-setting 37 points in a mere 14 minutes to shatter fellow one-time New York Knick Stephon Marbury’s 31-point performance in the U.S.’s 102-94 quarterfinal success over Spain during the 2004 Athens Olympics.

    En route to his 37-point feast, the 6-8 Anthony went 13-for-16 from the field, including 10-for-12 from beyond the three-point arc that is a foot-and-a-half shorter than the NBA’s. He bettered by six points the old U.S. Olympic mark held by Marbury, a 6-2 guard who this year powered the Beijing Ducks to the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) title over the seven-time champion Guangdong Southern Tigers and earned Finals MVP honors in the process.

    Team USA’s 83-point victory against Nigeria obliterated its own Olympic single-game winning mark of 72 (101-29) against Thailand in the 1956 Rome Games.

    The U.S.’s 156-point total is a new Olympic mark, breaking Brazil’s 138 points against Egypt (85) in a first-round game during the 1988 Seoul Games.

    The Yanks’ 29 three-pointers (out of 46 attempts) also are a new Olympic record.

    Nonetheless, Team USA's 83-point winning margin over Nigeria is not the biggest in Olympic men's basketball history. **Korea and China each beat Iraq by 100 points during the 1948 London Games.

    Meanwhile, Anthony and LeBron James, who as one-year NBA veterans secured a bronze medal in the 2004 Athens Olympics and a gold during the 2008 Beijing Games, are currently seeing action in their third Olympics. *

    The only other three-time U.S. men’s basketball Olympian is Navyman David (The Admiral) Robinson, who brought home a bronze in Seoul in 1988 (as an amateur) and a gold in both the 1992 Barcelona and 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
  4. 2012 London Olympics: *OLE! OLE! OLE! OSCAR

    He is to international basketball what Pele is to world soccer.

    Significantly, both legendary athletes are natives of Brazil.

    His name: *Oscar Schmidt, the all-time leading scorer in Olympic men’s basketball history.

    A 6-8 forward, Schmidt collected 1,094 points in 38 Olympic games. *In a record-sharing five Olympic appearances – 1980 Moscow (Soviet Union), 1984 Los Angeles (USA), 1988 Seoul South Korea), 1992 Barcelona (Spain) and 1996 Atlanta (USA) – he averaged an eye-popping 28.8 points every time out.

    Schmidt, who twice visited Manila during Brazilian club Emtex’s guest participation in the Philippine Basketball Association in 1977 and in his national team’s stint in the 1978 World Basketball Championship (now known as the FIBA World Cup), was the No. 1 scorer in three Olympic Games – 42.3 ppg in 1988, 24.8 ppg in 1992 and 27.4 ppg in 1996.

    Until now, Schmidt, the son of a German father and a Brazilian-Yugoslav mother, still owns the all-time single-game Olympic scoring mark of 55 points, which he set in Brazil’s 118-110 loss to Spain in 1988.

    Australia’s Andrew Gaze ranks second on the all-time Olympic scoring list with 789 points in an Olympic-record 40 games and record-tying five stints.

    A member of the Aussies’ Olympic unit in 1984, 1988, 1992, 1996 and 2000, the 6-7 Gaze was the top point-producer during the 2000 Sydney Games with a 19.9-point average in eight appearances.

    Gaze, who played collegiate ball at Seton Hall University, played two seasons in the National Basketball Association (1993-94 Washington and 1998-99 San Antonio).

    Aside from Schmidt and Gaze, the only other men’s basketball athlete to suit up in five Olympics is Puerto Rico’s Teofilo Cruz, who made his debut in Rome in 1960 then donned the national colors once again in 1964, 1968, 1972 and 1976.
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  5. 2012 London Olympics: PH SCORES A FIRST

    Did you know that the Philippines is the first team to score at least 100 points in a single game in Olympic men’s basketball history?

    During the 1948 London Olympics, the Filipinos registered a 102-30 victory over Iraq in their opening assignment in Group B of the four-group, preliminary-round competitions.

    While Chile (100-1, Korea (120-20) and China (125-15, then represented by the Nationalist Republic of China or now called Taiwan) subsequently also reached the 100-point plateau against winless Iraq (0-5) in the same six-nation group, the rub of the schedule gave the Philippines the distinction of being the first team ever to score 100 points or more in Olympic men’s basketball annals.

    Note also that not a single entry in Group A (six teams), C (six teams, including the United States) and D (five teams) was able to hit the century mark at any time during the elimination-round phase.

    In fact, there were no other 100-point team performances during the competition.

    The U.S. bamboozled France, 65-21, to secure the gold medal. *Brazil whipped Mexico, 52-47, to settle for the bronze.

    Korea was the highest-ranking Asian squad during the London Games at eighth place.

    The Philippines, which was coached by Dionisio (Chito) Calvo and bannered by team skipper Felicisimo (Fely) Fajardo, his brother Gabriel (Gabby) Fajardo, Lauro (The Fox) Mumar, Manuel Araneta Jr. and Ramoncito Campos, ranked 12th.

    China placed 18th among a record-setting 23 participants.
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