One of three Florida Gators competing in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament this week in Caracas, Venezuela, Atlanta Hawks forward/center Al Horford and the Dominican Republic are just one victory away from advancing to the 2012 London Olympics after toppling Macedonia 86-76 on Friday.
Horford registered 14 points (on 5-of-17 shooting) and 15 rebounds in the win as he continues his domination of the event. He previously scored 30 points (10-of-14), notched 12 boards and dished four assists against Korea and added 22 points (10-of-13), nine rebounds and four dimes against Russia.
The Dominican Republic fell to Lithuania 109-83 on Saturday and has subsequently forced into a sudden death contest on Sunday against Nigeria in which the winner will earn the third and final Olympic qualifying spot.
Horford struggled mightily from the field once again, scoring 12 points on just 4-of-14 shooting while registering four rebounds, three assists and two steals.
The two other Gators competing in the tournament saw their Olympic dreams come to a crashing halt thanks to a pair of losses on Friday.
After toppling Jordan (107-63) and Puerto Rico (98-84) in the preliminary round, Greece was stunned 80-79 by Nigeria on Friday, ending former Florida point guard Nick Calathes’s chance to go on and compete in London, England.
Calathes only played 11 minutes and made 1-of-5 shots for three points; he watched from the bench as Nigeria gave up a late three-point lead but rallied from behind and pulled ahead in the final seconds for the upset victory.
Puerto Rico was similarly sent packing by Lithuania on Friday with the 76-72 loss knocking redshirt senior guard Mike Rosario’s Olympic hopes four years into the future.
Rosario was one of two Puerto Ricans who did not see the court in the hard-fought contest that saw his team come from behind to take a late lead (72-71 with 36 seconds left) before allowing the Lithuanians to score the final five points of the game.
With C Joakim Noah (France) withdrawing from the Olympics due to a severely sprained ankle he suffered two months ago, Horford is the Gators’ only chance to see a male basketball player represent them in London.