Qualified Team Focus - Puerto Rico: OQT hosts hope for first Olympics since 2004

    MIES (Switzerland) - Puerto Rico have a lot of history with the OQTs but have yet to advance thus far. They hope hosting the OQT can get them to their first Olympics since 2004.

    MIES (Switzerland) - It is now time to meet the six teams in this FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament 2024 Puerto Rico with the dream of becoming Olympic champions this summer.

    Here is the number 16 team in the FIBA World Ranking Men, presented by Nike, the nine-time Olympic participant, Puerto Rico. The Americas side finished fourth at the 1964 Olympics but have not reached the Games since 2004. 

    How they qualified

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    Puerto Rico headed to the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 hoping to reach at least the Quarter-Finals for the first time since 2002. The Americas side opened the tournament with an exciting 101-96 victory over debutant South Sudan. Puerto Rico were battered by 17 points in the second game against Serbia before finishing the opening group stage with an 18-point win over China.

    In the Second Round, Puerto Rico prevailed in a battle with rivals Dominican Republic 102-97 to start the group. But Puerto Rico could not come up with a win over Italy in the final group game, losing 73-57 to miss out on the Quarter-Finals.

    They ended up taking 12th place which qualified them for the OQTs as one of the best 16 remaining teams that did not advance directly to the Summer Olympics.

    Record at the Olympics

    Puerto Rico at the 2004 Olympics

    Appearances: 9 -1960 (13th); 1964 (4th); 1968 (9th); 1972 (6th); 1976 (9th); 1988 (7th); 1992 (8th); 1996 (10th); 2004 (6th)
    Medals: 0

    Recent OQT history*

    * Since 2008

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    Puerto Rico last played at the Olympics in 2004 as they haven't been able to get through the OQTs since then. In 2008, they lost to Germany 96-82 in the third-place game in Athens - the game to decide the final team to go to the Beijing Olympics.  The 2012 OQT in Venezuela saw Puerto Rico lose to Lithuania 76-72 in the Quarter-Finals.

    Puerto Rico were once again just one victory from the Olympics in 2016, but they lost in the OQT Belgrade Final 108-77 to host Serbia. The Puerto Ricans were eliminated from Olympic contention by Serbia again in 2020 when they lost to the Europeans 102-84 in the Semi-Finals.

    Last Olympics appearance 

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    Puerto Rico last appeared on the Olympics stage in 2004, and the islanders made some big noise right off the start in Athens. They defeated USA 92-73 to tip off Group B action with Carlos Arroyo scoring 24 points. That was the USA's first Olympic defeat since 1988. And this is still now one of the climax of the country recent basketball history.

    Puerto Rico could not make it two for two as they lost the second game, 98-90 to Lithuania. They returned to the win column against Angola with an 83-80 victory and beat Australia as well, 87-82. The Americas side lost their last group stage game 78-58 against Greece to finish third with a 3-2 record.

    Puerto Rico were back in the top eight at the Olympics for the first time since 1992. But they failed to take another step as Italy picked up an 83-70 victory in the Quarter-Finals.

    The OQT Group Phase

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    Puerto Rico will have the home-court advantage in the OQT as they attempt to get back to the Olympics. They open Group B play with likely a must-win game against Bahrain, who won the Olympic Pre-Qualifying Tournament 2023 Syria. Puerto Rico will then be out for revenge in the second game as they take on Italy.

    The top two teams will go into the Semi-Finals with those sides facing Côte d'Ivoire, Lithuania and Mexico from Group A. The two Semi-Finals winners will square off in the Final with the winner grabbing a ticket to Paris.

    Puerto Rico OQT games

    vs Bahrain (July 3)
    vs Italy (July 4)

    Players to watch

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    Tremont Waters emerged at the FIBA World Cup as a real star for Puerto Rico, averaging 20.2 points and 9.0 assists. The guard is still only 26 years old and will be only that much better for the experience he gained in Asia - just his second major FIBA event following AmeriCup 2022

    Jose Alvarado and Gian Clavell

    Waters could see Jose Alvarado take more charge in the OQT as the 26-year-old guard plays in the NBA for New Orleans. There is also Gian Clavell, who played a big part in getting Puerto Rico to the FIBA World Cup but could not compete in Asia.

    George Conditt

    The big man duo of George Conditt and Ismael Romero caused major issues at times as well in the FIBA World Cup while Jordan Howard showed how much of a weapon he could be from long range. There is also the ultra-athletic forward Isaiah Pineiro as well as Stephen Thompson, veteran John Holland, Arnaldo Toro and Phillip Wheeler.

    Qualified Team Focus series

    During coming weeks and months, we will continue to check out all teams ready to step out as part of our Qualified Team Focus series. You can already take a look at Lithuania and Italy here.

    FIBA

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