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Final eight teams set in FIBA Americas Olympic qualifier

Sep 5, 2011, 8:03 AM EDT

Argentina's Ginobili goes to the basket under pressure from Panama's Pomare, Lloreda and Warren during the FIBA Americas Championship basketball game in Mar del Plata Reuters

We are through the group stage of the FIBA Americas tournament. Long live the Group Stage, part two.

After the first round of games in Argentina, two teams have been eliminated — Cuba and Paraguay. So we are down to eight and the second round of group play — because who doesn’t love more group play? — with two of these teams Qualifying for the Olympics next year:

The Dominican Republic, Panama, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Argentina, Canada, Brazil and. Uruguay.

Over the next four days, each team will play one game against the four teams that advanced from the other group. The combined record of the first two rounds will determine which teams advance to the “final four” knockout stage.

Look for Argentina (currently 3-0 thanks to Manu Ginobili), Puerto Rico (2-1), the Dominican Republic (2-1) and Brazil (2-1) to advance to the final four. Smart money has Argentina as one of the final two, but the other three elite teams want to do well this round to avoid Argentina in the final four (which is single elimination).

Also, whichever team comes in fifth gets an invite (along with teams three and four) to the pre-Olympics qualifying tournament next year. For teams like Canada, Venezuela and Uruguay that should be the goal. (Panama, at 0-3, should be happy they get to still be playing anywhere).

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