Day 1 round-up of Men's Olympic Qualifying Tournament
By Dave Ryan
The opening game of the day saw Russia effectively seal a place in the second stage with a 91-56 hammering of South Korea. The Russians, who had impressed in their two warm-up wins against Great Britain, never looked back after a 27-16 first period, and outscored their opponents by at least six points in all four periods. Former NBA forward Andrei Kirilenko led the way for the Russians with 16 points in a team-high 22 minutes, adding six rebounds and four steals. Three other Russians finished in double figures as all 12 of their roster played at least 11 minutes.
Game two was no more competitive as Europe's strength showed again with Greece hammering Jordan 107-63. Konstantinos Papanikolaou came off the bench to lead the Greeks with 19 points in as many minutes as his team went one better with the Russians and had five players finish in double figures. A 33-12 first period set the tone, and the game was won on the boards, with Greece out-rebounding Jordan 46-20. American born shooting guard Enver Soobzokov led the Jordanians with 14 points and four assists.
The second set of two games on day one of the competition proved to be much more competitive, with Angola holding off GB's old rivals FYR Macedonia's fourth period charge to win 88-84. The Angolans rushed into a 32-21 first period lead and stretched that advantage to 53-40 at half-time. The sides shared 38 points in the third period to leave Angola still ahead by 13 at the final break, and despite a 25-16 fourth quarter by FYROM, they held on for the win. Eduardo Mingus led all scorers with 24 for Angola, with teammate Olimpio Cipriano adding 23. American born guard Bo McCalebb dropped six three-pointers on his way to a team-high 21 points for Macedonia.
Hosts Venezuela made home advantage count as they won a thriller against Nigeria 71-69. There never more than two points between the teams at the end of a quarter, but it was 20-19 final quarter and 20 points from New Orleans Hornets' guard Greivis Vasquez which proved the difference between the teams. Ike Diogu led a balanced Nigerian offence with a 14 point, ten rebound double-double.
Tuesday's action sees South Korea returning to the court first knowing that they must beat Dominican Republic to stand any chance of progressing - and even then they would need Russia to win against the same opposition in the final group game. FYROM also face a win or bust situation as they face the New Zealand Tall Blacks in the second game. They are in a slightly different situation to the Koreans as they still stand a good chance of progressing if the group ends as a three-way tie due to their narrow defeat on Monday.
Game three sees Puerto Rico looking to end Jordan's interest in the tournament before Venezuela host Lithuania in the day's final and potentially most exciting game.
For a summary of Monday's results please click here