Team U.S.A. will play Argentina, France and Tunisia in the first round of the men's basketball tournament in London for the 2012 Olympics.
Chris Bosh (L) grabs a rebound in front of Pau Gasol of Spain during the men's gold medal basketball game at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. Will the United States and Spain meet again in the gold medal game at the 2012 Olympics? (Reuters/Lucy Nicholson)
Team U.S.A. was drawn into Group A on Monday in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, along with the first and second teams in the FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament, which will be played in Caracas, Venezuela from July 2-8, according to The Associated Press. Spain, the runner-up to Team U.S.A in the 2008 Beijing Games, was drawn into Group B along with Australia, Brazil, China, Britain and the third team in the FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
Members of each group will play each other once within the group, and the top four teams in each group will advance to the quarterfinals.
The 2008 men's final between the U.S. and Spain was one of the greatest Olympic moments, said FIBA Secretary General Patrick Baumann, who is an IOC member. It showed the huge strides international basketball had made in becoming more and more competitive. I expect this year's Olympic basketball tournaments will be a great and memorable spectacle for all.
Team U.S.A., which has won 13 Olympic gold medals in men's basketball, is facing a series of injuries to several of the 20 players pre-selected to the squad in January. Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose tore an ACL in the NBA playoffs on Saturday; Los Angeles Clippers guard Chauncey Billups had already been dropped after rupturing an Achilles tendon earlier this year; Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard, the starting center for the Team U.S.A. in Beijing, had season-ending back surgery in April; and, Portland Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge has been ruled out of London because of a hip problem.
Rose and Billups were the point guards for the Team U.S.A. that won the 2010 FIBA World Championship in Turkey. Now, it seems as though New Jersey Nets point guard Deron Williams, Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul and Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook are expected to take over the position in London.
The Brazilian men's team will be playing in the Olympics for the first time since the 1996 Atlanta Games, having failed to qualify for the last three Olympic tournaments.
The teams that will participate in the FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament will be Angola, the Dominican Republic, Macedonia, Greece, Jordan, South Korea, Lithuania, New Zealand, Nigeria, Puerto Rico, Russia and host Venezuela.
The Olympic basketball tournaments will take place from July 28-Aug. 12.