The Olympic Qualifying Tournaments keep going Thursday on both sides of the Atlantic with Turkish Airlines EuroLeague and 7DAYS EuroCup players taking on key roles for their respective nations. After all games ended, the semifinals for Saturday were set. In Split, it will be Germany vs. Croatia and Brazil vs. Mexico. In Kaunas it will be Lithuania vs. Poland and Slovenia vs. Venezuela, and in Belgrade it will be Serbia vs. Puerto Rico and Italy vs. the Dominican Republic. In Victoria it will be Turkey vs. Greece and Canada vs. the Czech Republic. They seek to join Japan, Nigeria, Argentina, United States, Iran, France, Spain and Australia, which have already qualified to the 20th Olympic Basketball Tournament at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

OQT Victoria: Greece, Czech Republic advance to semis

Greece blasted China 80-105 to set up a do-or-die clash with Turkey in the next round. Giannoulis Larentzakis of Olympiacos Piraeus starred for Greece with 21 points, 4 assists and 3 steals in 20 minutes. His backcourt mate with the Reds, Kostas Sloukas, added 14 points, while AX Armani Exchange Milan’s fresh signing Dinos Mitoglou contributed 12 points and 7 boards, Leonidas Kaselakis of Panathinaikos OPAP Athens also scored 12 and FC Barcelona playmaker Nick Calathes dished 8 assists. Mingxuan Hu paced the Chinese attack with 16 points and 5 assists. The Greeks never trailed in the game and led 14-28 after 10 minutes en route to a convincing win. The Czech Republic edged Uruguay 80-79 to set up a meeting with host Canada in the next round. Tomas Satoransky led the way with 19 points, 7 rebounds and 8 assists and 2019 EuroLeague MVP Jan Vesely of Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul added 6 points, 3 assists and 3 steals. Uruguay went up 19-22 after the first basket of the second quarter before the Czechs took charge with a 19-0 run and led 45-37 at the break. Uruguay rallied in the fourth quarter, but could not make up the difference. ALBA Berlin guard Jayson Granger shined with 22 points, 7 boards and 7 assists in defeat.

OQT Kaunas: Slovenia, Lithuania win groups

In its second game, Slovenia blasted Poland, 112-77 to clinch first place in Group B. Former EuroLeague MVP Luka Doncic led the winners with 18 points, Valencia Basket’s Klemen Prepelic added 17 points and 4 assists. Jaka Blazic of Cedevita Olimpija Ljubljana and Zoran Dragic of TD Systems Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz added 11 points each. A 34-20 Slovenia burst in the second quarter broke the game open early. Later on, Lithuania thrashed South Korea, 57-96, to win Group A. CSKA Moscow’s Marius Grigonis and Zalgiris Kaunas’s Rokas Jokubaitis had a big role in the effort of the winners with 13 points apiece. Tomas Dimsa of Herbalife Gran Canaria helped with 11 points in a game that Lithuania already controlled 16-28 after 10 minutes. On Saturday, the first semifinal will pair Lithuania with Poland, while the second will have Slovenia against Venezuela. The winner of each pairing will meet in the final on Sunday for an Olympic ticket.

OQT Split: Germany survives Russia, wins group

Germany and Russia starred in a thriller that was decided in the last seconds and when the dust settled, Germany came out on top, 67-69. That result allows Germany to win Group A and advance to semis, while Russia stays winless and is out of the Olympic Games. CSKA Moscow’s Johannes Voigtmann led the winners with 13 points and 7 rebounds, and Niels Giffey of Zalgiris Kaunas added 11. The game entered the last 90 seconds tied at 65-65, and it was Maodo Lo of ALBA Berlin who hit the last free throw with one second to go. In the second game, hosting Croatia got the best of Tunisia, 75-70, and managed to finish second and advance to the Saturday semifinals. Mario Hezonja of Panathinaikos OPAP Athens led the winners with 27 points and 8 rebounds, while Ante Zizic of Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv added 14. A 14-29 run by Tunisia in the third period turned the game upside down as until then it had been dominated by the hosts, and with 18 seconds to go Croatia led 72-70. Hezonja’s free throw with six seconds to go made it a 3-point game and then Roko Ukic finished the job with two more free throws to seal the deal. Croatia will now face Germany in the first Saturday semifinal, while Brazil and Mexico will play in the second one. The winners will play for a ticket to Tokyo on Sunday.

OQT Belgrade: Italy clinches first, advances

Italy managed to defeat Puerto Rico 90-83 to get its second win and clinch first place in Group B. Both teams had already advanced to the semifinals, in which Puerto Rico will face Serbia. Achille Polonara of Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul and Simone Fontecchio of ALBA Berlin led the way with 21 points each for Italy. Gary Browne of Dolomiti Energia Trento had 16 points for Puerto Rico. Italy trailed 37-44 at the break but a 27-14 in the third quarter allowed them to jump ahead for good to win the group. In the last game of the day, the Dominican Republic beat the Philippines, 67-94. Therefore, the semifinals in Belgrade for Saturday will see Serbia and Puerto Rico in the first one and Italy and the Dominican Republic in the other. The winner of each semifinal will play for an Olympic berth on Sunday.

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