Antetokounmpo, Greece head to Olympics. Brazil, Spain, Puerto Rico join them in Paris Games field

Giannis Antetokounmpo is now an Olympian

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Giannis Antetokounmpo is now an Olympian.

Antetokounmpo is heading to the Olympics for the first time, after he scored 23 points and Greece held off Croatia 80-69 on Sunday in one of the four men's basketball qualifying tournament finals being held to determine the final spots in the 12-team field for the Paris Games.

“The best athletes in the world compete in the Olympic Games," Antetokounmpo said. "We have nothing to lose. ... I really believe we have an incredible team and we can accomplish something special.”

Georgios Papagiannis scored 19 points for Greece, which got 14 from Nick Calathes and earned an Olympic berth for the first time since 2008.

“It's very nice to qualify because that's the first step,” Papagiannis said. “At the Olympics, we're looking to do something really good there.”

Ivica Zubac had 19 points and 13 rebounds for Croatia, which got 15 points apiece from Mateo Dreznjak and Mario Hezonja and 14 from Dario Saric.

Greece will be placed in Group A for the Paris Games, with its opening-stage games against Australia, Canada and Spain — which also qualified on Sunday by beating the Bahamas.

Already having qualified for the Paris field: the four-time defending gold medalist U.S., France, Germany, Japan, Serbia, South Sudan, Canada and Australia. France qualified as the host nation; the other seven teams on that list qualified based on their finishes at the World Cup last summer.

And on Sunday, Brazil, Greece, Spain and Puerto Rico grabbed the last spots after prevailing in winner-take-all qualifiers that started last week.

Puerto Rico 79, Lithuania 68

For the first time since 2004, Puerto Rico is headed to the Olympics.

At San Juan, the hosts got 23 points from Jose Alvarado, 18 points from Tremont Waters and topped Lithuania 79-68 to claim the 12th and final spot in the field for the Paris Games.

“Obviously, this game was very important for us and the island,” Alvarado said. “But we knew it was more than just basketball. We knew how great we had to be to represent this island and the love they gave us was amazing. We just wanted to do as best we can for them.”

Puerto Rico will be slotted into group play in France with Serbia, South Sudan and the U.S. The Americans and Puerto Rico also played in 2004 Olympics, with Puerto Rico winning 92-73.

Rokas Jokubaitis scored 16 points and Domantas Sabonis scored 10 for Lithuania.

“We had to come together to make history,” Puerto Rico coach Nelson Colon said.

Spain 86, Bahamas 78

Rudy Fernandez is going to the Olympics for the sixth time, a first for any men’s basketball player. And Spain had to dig deep to get him there.

Spain earned its seventh consecutive Olympic berth after holding off the Bahamas 86-78 at Valencia, Spain.

Lorenzo Brown had 18 points for Spain, which got 14 from Willy Hernangomez, 12 from Santiago Aldama and 10 from Usman Garuba.

Buddy Hield led the Bahamas with 19 points. Deandre Ayton scored 17, Eric Gordon had 15 and Valdez Edgecombe Jr. finished with 12.

Like Greece, Spain is in Group A for the opening stage of games in Paris alongside Australia and Canada.

Brazil 94, Latvia 69

At Riga, Latvia, Brazil used a 19-0 run over the final 3:21 of the first quarter to set the tone in what became a surprisingly easy 94-69 victory over Latvia.

Bruno Caboclo led Brazil with 21 points and Leo Meindl added 20. Caboclo made a 65-foot 3-pointer to end the first quarter — one in which Brazil was 8 for 8 from beyond the arc to take a 34-11 lead and stun the home crowd.

“My dad was a basketball player and his dream was to play in the Olympic Games,” Meindl said. “I’m making this for me, for him and for my family. I’m feeling on the clouds.”

Rihards Lomazs scored 15 for Latvia, which got 14 points apiece from Rolands Smits and Arturs Zagars.

“It just seemed like it was going their way from the first quarter,” Zagars said.

Brazil will be placed in Group B for the Olympics, with games against France (July 27), Germany (July 30) and Japan (Aug. 2) in the opening stage.

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AP Summer Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/2024-paris-olympic-games

Credit: AP

Credit: AP