The knockout round of the FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Ankara, Turkey, pitted the top eight from the four tournament groups against each other. The four game winners automatically advanced to the 2012 Olympic field. The fifth and final spot was determined after a semifinals and finals round.
Here's who's in:
Croatia beat Canada in the first - and closest - knockout round game, 59-56. After falling behind by seven points at halftime, Canada used a 20-8 third quarter spurt to make up the difference. Croatia roared back with an 18-10 fourth quarter to retake the lead and solidify their spot in the Olympic field. Croatia was led by Luca Ivankovic's 12 points and nine from Iva Ciglar, all in the second half. Canada struggled from the field, hitting only 31.9% of their shot attemptsThis marks the first trip to the Olympics for the Croatian women.
The Czech Republic used a 13-0 run to start the game to outlast Japan, 53-47. Petra Kulichova finished with 15 rebounds, 14 points and six blocks in the win. Japan was outrebounded 42-23 in the contest and shot just 28.6% in the loss but managed to have the game to one possession (46-43) before succumbing to the length of the Czech Republic. This will be the third consecutive Olympics appearance for the Czechs.
The tournament host country breezed through their quarterfinal game with Argentina, besting them 72-58 to advance to their first-ever Olympics. A 19-0 run in the first half saw Turkey get up on the South Americans 35-15 by halftime. Argentina clawed back to within seven with seven minutes to play, but the crowd of 7,500 propelled Turkey to close out the game in dominating fashion. Turkey had three scorers in double-digits, with Nevriye Yilmaz, Quanitra Hollingsworth and Tugba Palazoglu providing the bulk of the scoring. Birsel Vardarli, a crowd favorit for her adept passing skills, added 11 assists in the victory. Argentina was led by teen Melisa Gretter's 17 points in the loss.
France knocked out Korea 80-63, behind a 19-point, 5-rebound effort from Sandrine Gruda. She was 8-of-13 from the field to lead the way for France, who shot a remarkable 55% for the game. The rebound disparity was gigantic, as France scooped up 42 boards compared to Korea's 10.
The semifinals saw Japan take care of Korea 79-51 and Canada overwhelm Argentina 58-41 to set up a Japan vs. Canada finals. After starting the game with an 11-0 run to set the tone, Canada raced out to a 10-point lead after the first quarter of action. Despite a late push from Japan in the form of a 14-2 run in the fourth quarter, the game was all but over at the tip in Canada's wire-to-wire win. Courtnay Pilypaitis led the Canadian charge with 21 points on 7-of-15 shooting and six assists in the victory.
"It's Canada Day today so we thought we would give our country the best present ever," Pilypaitis said after sealing the Canadians bid to the Olympics after a 12-year absence. "I couldn't be prouder of our team."
These five join automatic qualifiers Angola, Australia, Brazil, China, Great Britain, Russia and the United States to make up the 12-team Olympic field.