MANILA, Philippines (AP) — USA Basketball will play for a fifth consecutive Olympic men’s basketball gold medal next summer.
The Americans secured an automatic berth into the Paris Games on Sunday night as one of the two highest finishers from the Americas Region at the Basketball World Cup. The clinching became official when Serbia beat the Dominican Republic, a game that went final during the last second-round game for the U.S. against Lithuania.
Win or lose Sunday, the Americans already were assured of a spot in the World Cup quarterfinals. Brazil, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic were trying to join the U.S. in the quarters — but all lost on Sunday to end their stay at the World Cup.
And with only Canada — which also was playing Sunday night — still in the tournament from the Americas, that meant there was no scenario in which the U.S. could be passed by two teams from its region in the final World Cup standings.
There will be 12 nations in the Olympic men’s basketball tournament. France qualified as the host and seven teams — so far, it’s Australia, South Sudan, Japan and the U.S. — earn automatic bids based on their World Cup placing. The top two teams from the Americas get Olympic spots, as do the top two from Europe and the top team from Africa (South Sudan), Asia (Japan) and Oceania (Australia).
The U.S. topped France to win Olympic gold at the Tokyo Games two summers ago.