Three Florida Gators entered the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament on Monday hoping to earn the opportunity to compete in the 2012 London Olympics. By the time the event concluded on Sunday with the Dominican Republic falling 88-73 to Nigera for the third and final qualifying spot, none of the three saw their dreams realized.
Florida had the opportunity to see up to four players compete in the Olympics – center Joakim Noah (France), C Al Horford (Dominican Republic), point guard Nick Calathes (Greece) and redshirt senior guard Mike Rosario (Puerto Rico). Noah, whose team had already qualified for the games, was forced to withdraw from the event as he continues to nurse a severely sprained ankle suffered on May 4; the other three all lost their spots by falling in the tournament this week.
Greece’s run came to an end at the hands of Nigeria in an 80-79 stunner on Friday. Puerto Rico was also sent packing Friday as Lithuania took them down 76-72. The Dominican Republic had two chances to earn a berth but fell in both opportunities, losing 109-83 to Lithuania on Saturday and again to Nigeria on Sunday.
Horford dominated his team’s first two games of the tournament, registering 30 points (10-of-14) and 12 boards against Korea as well as 22 points (10-of-13) and nine rebounds against Russia. He was less overpowering in the final three games, scoring 14 points (5-of-17) and adding 15 rebounds in a victory over Macedonia, notching 12 points (4-of-14) and four boards in the loss to Lithuania, and leaving the court due to frustration with 15 seconds left after scoring just 12 points against Nigeria.
Center Azania Stewart of the Great Britain women’s basketball team will be the only Gators representative competing in the sport during the Olympics.