South Korea face stiff competition in men’s Olympic basketball qualifiers

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SEOUL, June 29 (Yonhap) – South Korea will seek to advance to their first Olympic men’s basketball tournament in 25 years against two favorite opponents this week.

South Korea will face Venezuela to open the FIBA ​​Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Kaunas, Lithuania, to kick off Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. local time at Zalgirio Arena, while it will be 1:30 a.m. Thursday in Korea. South.

The next stop will be Lithuania at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in Kaunas, or at 1:30 a.m. Friday in Seoul.

These three countries are part of group A. Group B includes Poland, Slovenia and Angola.

After the round robin, the top four teams from each group will advance to the semi-finals. Only the final winner in Kaunas will qualify for July 23-August. 8 Tokyo Olympics.

There are three more qualifying tournaments this week: in Victoria, Canada; Split, Croatia; and Belgrade, Serbia.

South Korea, 30th, are the lowest-ranked team in their group, behind Lithuania, eighth and Venezuela, 20th.

South Korea must win at least one game to have a chance of reaching the semi-finals. Lithuania, led by NBA stars Domantas Sabonis (Indiana Pacers) and Jonas Valanciunas (Memphis Grizzlies), will provide a tougher challenge for South Korea, and head coach Cho Sang’s 12-man squad. -hyun should try to get the best of Venezuela in the opener.

Venezuela will face Lithuania first on Tuesday, then face South Korea for the second night in a row. South Korea and its young formation, with an average age of 26, should have fresher legs against Venezuela, whose players are on average 31 years old.

South Korea will feature Davidson forward Lee Hyun-jung and naturalized center Ra Gun-a, born Ricardo Ratliffe in the United States. Two former Korean Basketball League (KBL) MVPs Heo Hoon and Song Kyo-chang are injured, and head coach Cho called high school star Yeo Jun-seok and Korea University Center Ha Yun-gi to give them a taste of international basketball.

“Obviously our two opponents will be tough to beat, but we will have to meet this challenge,” Cho said at a press conference on Monday. “Our goal is to beat Venezuela. If we pay attention to the details on the rebound and the defense, then the result can end in our favor.”

Cho admitted that missing key players due to injury is not ideal, but added: “I hope these players see the high quality of international basketball with their own eyes and grow from that experience.”


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