South Africa's basketball community

The Olympics are coming…

By on August 5, 2008 in FanZone

It’s 2008 and the Olympic Games are almost upon us, with the highly anticipated opening ceremony taking place on Friday 8th August.

On the Men’s side, now that we’re 16 years removed from the 1992 hype about the original Dream Team, the world’s stage looks drastically different in many respects compared to what it did then. This was never more apparent than four years ago when Argentina and Italy finished with Gold and Silver respectively in the Men’s competition, leaving the USA with a surprising Bronze. Gulp. It seems that since that fateful day in 1992 when the world stood awestruck as the Dream Team demolished everything in sight, the world took notice and global basketball started evolving… but someone forgot to tell the USA. Since then, the NBA has assisted the global game by increasing the number of international players taken in and helping develop the global game on its own doorstep.

This time around, it promises to be a fascinating competition as Argentina tries to repeat and prove that their win in 2004 was no accident, and the USA looks to put three years of preparation to good use. LeBron James has even guaranteed a gold for his team. Only time will tell how good his word is in this case. However, based on his talent and performance plus the fact that he was part of the losing 2004 Olympic team, it certainly must sound warning bells for opposing teams. Besides the USA, other Men’s favourites include Germany and Lithuania as well as host China.

Sadly, the one thing that has not changed much is Africa’s status on the global basketball stage, with only one team – Angola – representing in the Men’s competition. This further highlights the importance of basketball development throughout Africa. From a South African perspective, these are development issues we know only too well, and hopefully within the next few years we as a basketball community can work together to develop a model that works, and then possibly even roll this out into other African countries. Can you just imagine an African league that rivals the US and Euroleague!? I would like to believe this is a vision of the future, and not just a meaningless wish.

On the Women’s side, Mali will be the only African representative, going up against the defending champions and favourites, the USA (who have fared much better than their male counterparts), as well as other strong teams such as Brazil and Australia. The Women’s game has never received as much attention as the Men’s game (thanks again to the Dream Team hype as well as the relative attention that the NBA and Men’s Euroleague get) but it is growing in leaps and bounds. The start of the WNBA in the USA several years ago was an important point in Women’s basketball development, and I believe we will see the pace of this continue to accelerate in the future.

What may also be of interest is that the USA basketball previously announced plans to release a documentary about the team’s preparation leading up to the Games. This is awesome for basketball development as it could well give valuable insight to coaches and players about preparing for competition. The videos and full story are available here. Take what you will from it, but it’s a very bold approach from a team fighting to regain first place.

If you’re wanting to head off to watch the games live, first thing you’ll need are tickets. At $1,250 for the good tickets to the Men’s final, its clear that there are expectations this will be quite a spectacular performance. Interestingly, the equivalent tickets to the Women’s final is a “bargain” at $450.

Well, let’s see what happens. It’s certain to be an exciting time, regardless of the outcome, and there should be some awesome quality basketball on display. Here’s to finding out who the real World Champions are (sorry Boston, you know what we mean).

Go Angola!

Other useful links:

Basketball at the 2008 Olympics (Wikipedia)
FIBA’s Official Olympic Basketball info – Men
FIBA’s Official Olympic Basketball info – Women
FIBA latest news and results – Men
FIBA latest news and results – Women
Olympic preview of Men’s teams (NBA)

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There Are 3 Brilliant Comments

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  1. Manyehlisa Lehohla says:

    I think the USA were supreme in beating China on Sunday, although the Olympic Games hosts were good outside the three point area, the Dream Team were just spectacular. Kobe, Lebron, Wade and Co, proved they were just too strong for China.
    The Dream Team looked like the gold standard.

  2. kim says:

    They had the streetball mentality that has had them losing semi-finals in international tournaments and If they continue on this route they will not win during the knock-out stages against teams like Spain and Argentina.

    Will see how it goes though.Mail impressed me against New Zealand and but was so dissapointed after watching Angola being outplayed.Gomez and cipriano were out and hope they recover.

  3. Baller says:

    Mali played better only that last 10 seconds decision..i believe they should have relaxed cos they had too juch time on the away position on a walk was just too bad..they would have won that game..well,that shows how important is clock management..they played much better given its their 1st international tournament..

    eish, ANGOLA..honestly i think the big twin towers gave them problems from the beginning..that unsettled Gomez and Cipriano cos they couldn’t do anything to stop them..hope they will be fine going forward thou..

    USA, its another story..hope they play bball now cos yesterday they didn’t look like a team better than AND 1..