Basketball World Cup 2023: Argentina Men’s Basketball Team Miss Out on Olympics Berth

REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino
FIBA Americas Cup 2022 – Final – Brazil v Argentina – Geraldo Magalhaes Sports Gymnasium, Recife, Brazil – September 12, 2022 Argentina players celebrate after winning the Americas Cup

Argentina’s men’s basketball team spurned their last chance to reach the Paris 2024 Olympics after losing 82-75 to the Bahamas in the FIBA Olympic pre-qualifying final, marking the first time they have failed to reach the Games in more than two decades.

In February, Argentina were left out of the FIBA World Cup for the first time in 41 years after losing to the Dominican Republic in their final Americas qualifier.

Like the rest of the continent’s teams missing the World Cup, Argentine hopes had hinged on winning the Olympic pre-qualifier that awards a berth to the champions in the pre-Olympic playoff with teams from other continents.

“It was a final and the team played it as such. I think that everything we had prepared and talked about we executed 95 percent,” coach Pablo Prigioni said in a press conference.

“We were there, we competed at a very high level, taking into account that in the other team there are three players of a superlative level.”

The Bahamas had a trio of NBA players – Deandre Ayton (Phoenix Suns center), Eric Gordon (Phoenix Suns shooting guard) and Buddy Hield (Indiana Pacers small forward), to whom Prigioni attributed much of their success.

“Our reality is this – we have no players in the NBA but we have good players in Europe and we have to focus on that, on that transformation, on the growth of the young players, focusing on their improvement.

“It was a great experience for many of our youngsters, I think the team competed as it should have. It was not enough for us to win, but I think they gave an example of how the group wants to become a great team,” Prigioni added.

The South Americans had not missed an Olympics since Sydney 2000 and were once a power in world basketball.

Led by former San Antonio Spurs point guard Manu Ginobili, they dethroned the United States in the semi-finals of the 2004 Athens Olympics and went on to claim the gold medal.

At Beijing 2008 they won the bronze medal and in London 2012 they finished fourth while at Rio de Janeiro 2016 and Tokyo 2020 they lost in the quarter-finals.

The World Cup is scheduled from Aug. 25 to Sept. 10 and will be co-hosted by the Philippines, Japan and Indonesia.