Competing Teams

GROUP A
Argentina
How qualified: 2nd in Americas Championships

China
How qualified: Won Asian Championships

Italy
How qualified: 3rd in European Championships

New Zealand
How qualified: 2nd in Oceania Championships

Serbia & Montenegro
How qualified: Won 2002 World Championships

Spain
How qualified: 2nd in European Championships

GROUP B
Angola
How qualified: Won African Championships

Australia
How qualified: Won Oceania Championships

Greece
How qualified: Host country

Lithuania
How qualified: Won European Championships

Puerto Rico
How qualified: 3rd in Americas Championships

USA
How qualified: Won Americas Championships

How the Competition Works
Beginning Aug. 15, each team in a group will play every team in their group once before the Olympic quarterfinals begin on Aug. 26.

The fifth and sixth place finishers in each group will play for ninth through 12th place on Aug. 24.

The top four finishing teams from each preliminary-round group advance to the medal-round quarterfinals. The semifinals will be held on Aug 27, and the gold- and bronze-medal games will be held on Aug. 28.
Complete men's basketball tournament schedule


Five Contenders
Medal Predictions:
NBA TV's Simone Sandri: Argentina, USA, Lithuania
Blog Squad's George Eddy: Lithuania, Argentina, USA
Blog Squad's Yaron Talpaz: USA, Spain, Argentina

Pre-Olympic Coverage:
USA Basketball Training Tour: USA goes 5-1
FIBA Diamond Ball roundup: Serbia, Lithuania, Argentina finish 1-2-3; Yao named MVP
Recent Pre-Olympic Results

United States: The Americans have two great trump cards in the tournament's best player, Tim Duncan, and best coach, Larry Brown, but questions remain about whether Brown can adapt this talented but inexperienced group to international play quickly enough to keep the U.S. undefeated in Olympic competition in the NBA era.

The U.S. was inconsistent on its exhibition tour, sandwiching blowouts over Puerto Rico and Serbia & Montenegro, and two solid wins at Turkey, around a dreadful doubleheader in Cologne, where it was clobbered by Italy and needed an Allen Iverson prayer to beat Germany, which did not qualify for the Games.

Serbia & Montenegro: The 2002 world champions face many of the same challenges as the Americans. Several experienced players -- including Peja Stojakovic, Vlade Divac, and Marko Jaric -- have opted not to play. While still able to field a talent-laden roster, Serbia & Montenegro has experienced mixed results in pre-Olympic play as it struggles to develop consistent chemistry.

The Serbs were impressive in winning the FIBA Diamond Ball tournament in Belgrade, but stumbled badly at home vs. the U.S. and also in two losses to Spain in late July.

Lithuania: With an unselfish display of passing and shooting, Lithuania pulled off the surprise Eurobasket 2003 championship with Sacramento Kings forward Darius Songaila the lone NBA name on its roster. Point guard Sarunas Jasikevicious was the maestro, earning the tournament MVP for his leadership and court vision. Jaskevicious, who played at the University of Maryland, went on to lead Maccabi Tel Aviv to the Euroleague championship.

Runners-up in the FIBA Diamond Ball after losing the championship to host Serbia & Montenegro, Lithuania has split a pair of games with Argentina, and also suffered two losses vs. Greece.

Argentina: The 2002 world silver medalists -- featuring breakneck Spurs star Manu Ginobili -- remain a dangerous outfit, due largely to team cohesion forged through years of experience playing together. The Argentines are a physical, athletic squad, with former Temple and NBA point guard Pepe Sanchez running the show, wingman (and new Bull) Andres Nocioni running wild, and big man Fabricio Oberto running circles around the opposition with his deft post moves inside.

Judging by pre-Olympic play, Argentina has yet to find its form in 2004. In addition to its split with Lithuania, Argentina has lost to Spain and had to fight to get by Angola and China at the Diamond Ball.

Spain: Averaging more than 25 points, Pau Gasol was enormous in leading Spain to silver at Eurobasket 2003. Expect the Memphis Grizzlies standout to continue to carry the Spaniards in Athens.

Spain has arguably been the most impressive team in pre-Olympic competition. Led by Gasol, they have won all seven games they've contested, including two wins over Serbia & Montenegro, a victory over Argentina and a 51-point demolition of Puerto Rico. However, all seven games were played in Spain, leaving questions about whether this team is truly battle-tested.


Rules Comparison

FIBA
NBA
Length of quarters
10 minutes
12 minutes
Lane dimensions
19' 8.2" x 19' 0.3"
16' x 19'
Three-point FG distance
20' 6.1"
23' 9" (22' in corner)
Shot clock
24 seconds
24 seconds
Backcourt violation
8 seconds
8 seconds
Player foul limit
5
6
Number of officials
2
3
Zone defense
Yes, without restriction
Yes, but defender cannot be in the lane for three seconds if not guarding his man
Technical foul also counts as personal foul
Yes
No
Touch ball above cylinder
Yes
No
Closely guarded for 5 seconds
Yes (while holding ball)
No



COUNTRY
PLAYER
POS.
HT.
WT.
NBA TEAM
YRS
Argentina
G
6-6
230
Detroit Pistons
R
G
6-6
210
San Antonio Spurs
2
F
6-7
225
Chicago Bulls
R
China
C
7-6
310
Houston Rockets
2
Lithuania
F
6-9
248
Sacramento Kings
1
New Zealand
C-F
6-10
250
San Antonio Spurs
4
Puerto Rico
G
6-2
202
Utah Jazz
3
C
7-3
275
Washington Wizards
R
C
7-1
260
Milwaukee Bucks
3
Serbia & Montenegro
C
6-11
272
Atlanta Hawks
3
F-C
7-0
240
New Jersey Nets
R
F
6-7
210
Cleveland Cavaliers
1
F
6-10
234
Seattle Sonics
3
Spain
F
7-0
240
Memphis Grizzlies
3
United States
F
6-8
220
Denver Nuggets
1
F
6-8
258
Utah Jazz
2
C
6-11
248
San Antonio Spurs
7
G
6-0
165
Philadelphia 76ers
8
G
6-8
240
Cleveland Cavaliers
1
F
6-7
222
New Jersey Nets
3
G
6-2
205
New York Knicks
8
F
6-7
215
Phoenix Suns
5
F
6-10
225
L.A. Lakers
5
F
6-10
254
Charlotte Bobcats
R
F
6-10
245
Phoenix Suns
2
G
6-4
212
Miami Heat
1


More International Notables

COUNTRY
PLAYER
NOTES
Argentina
Fabricio Oberto
Veteran center has array of post moves
Pepe Sanchez
Former NBA guard played for Sixers, Hawks and Pistons
Luis Scola
Second-round pick by Spurs in 2002
Ruben Wolkowyski
Banger has spent time with Sonics and Celtics
Australia
David Andersen
Second-round pick by Hawks in 2002
Andrew Bogut
Seven-footer entering second year at U. of Utah
Shane Heal
Former NBA guard played for Wolves and Spurs
Matt Nielsen
MVP of Australia's NBL played summer ball with Nuggets
China
Mengke Bateer
Center has appeared in 46 career NBA games
Yi Jianlian
Unlike Yao, seven-foot prospect is an athletic forward
Lithuania
Sarunas Jasikevicious
Eurobasket 2003 MVP; former U. of Maryland guard
Arvydas Macijauskas
Baby-faced sharpshooter emerged in '03 Euro title run
Saulius Stombergas
Another perimeter threat; Playing in third Olympics
New Zealand
Kirk Penney
Former U. of Wisconsin standout
Puerto Rico
Jose Ortiz
40-year-old international legend was NCAA star in 1980s
Serbia & Montenegro
Dejan Bodiroga
2002 world championships MVP
Igor Rakocevic
Played with Wolves in '02-03; offers quickness at point
Milos Vujanic
Second-round pick by Knicks in 2002; Suns hold rights
Spain
Juan Carlos Navarro
Second-round pick by Wizards in 2002
Rudy Fernandez
At age 19, top prospect not expected to play much