Keeping an Eye on the Hornets in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament

Published: July 8, 2012

Al-Farouq Aminu and his Nigerian teammates will face off against the Dominican Republic for the final spot in the Olympics, but he’s not the only Hornet who was involved in qualifying– Greivis Vasquez and Venezuela gave it the old college try as well.

Before we get into how Aminu and Vasquez have fared in qualifying, allow me to try and explain how countries go about qualifying for the Olympics, and how it’s played out so far. When I say “try”, I really do mean it.

Ways to qualify directly and who made it

Ways to Qualify for the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament

  • Place 3-6 in Eurobasket — Greece, Lithuania, Russia, Macedonia (yes, Macedonia)
  • Place 3-5 in the FIBA Americas Championship– Domincan Republic, Peurto Rico, Venezuela
  • Place 2nd or 3rd in the FIBA Asia Championship– Jordan and South Korea
  • Place 2nd or 3rd in the FIBA Africa Championship– Angola and Nigeria
  • Place 2nd in the FIBA Oceania Championship– New Zealand

Or you could just look at this chart if you’re a visual person who knows that MKD is Macedonia

Anyway, after five full regional tournaments, an international championship, and a million hearts broken (in Greece alone), it all comes down to one final game to determine who gets the final slot to compete for the Gold– Nigeria versus the Domincan Republic.

The game is at 7:00 CST on NBA TV, and I highly suggest you watch it. As far as non-title international basketball games go, this one is about as relevant as it gets.

How Aminu has done so far

In his first game–where he coincidentally was playing Greivis Vasquez— Aminu played 23 minutes in the loss, struggling from inside the three point arc (2-8) but managing to hit the long ball (2-3) enough to wind up with 10 points on 10 shots. He added 3 boards, 2 assists, and 2 blocks, but also turned it over thrice.

The Nigerian Prince (not really) had a strong showing in his teams huge upset win over Lithuania, going 5-11 from the field for 16 points and a team high 9 rebounds. He added 2 assists to go along with his 2 turnovers.

In game three Nigeria executed arguably the biggest upset of qualifying so far– beating Greece 80-79. According to the official website for the tournament (which is really annoying to navigate), Ike Diogu (the former Hornet who never actually played a game) was the rock of Gibraltar, but Al Farouq (13 points on 11 shots, 5 rebounds) “was also important, making repeated big plays throughout the game.”

On a side note, maybe the Hornets should take another look at Diogu. He’s played great so far in the tournament.

In game four against Russia, which could have assured Nigeria an Olympic spot, Aminu and his teammates struggled hard. The FIBA site refers to Aminu’s performance as “prominent”, but the reality is that he had 7 turnovers, scored only 13 points on 16 shots, and added a meager 3 rebounds in 34 minutes. The Nigerians lost the game and as a result find themselves facing the (edit-Domincan Republic) tomorrow.

I haven’t watched more than a few minutes of these games, but tomorrow you can bet I won’t miss a play. Aminu has been working with Monty Williams all summer long and this is arguably the most important game he’s played in his life. How he handles himself can, and likely will, tell us quite a bit about the progress that he’s made.

Certainly the international game isn’t the same as the NBA, but if Aminu doesn’t show up, it will make me think a bit less of his chances to become a starting caliber NBA player. Am I placing a bit too much emphasis on one game? Maybe, but we often judge NBA players by how they perform in the most important NBA games. This isn’t much different. Plus he’s playing against remarkably inferior competition.

Best of luck to Aminu tomorrow.

How Greivis Vasquez has fared

I guess I can start off by telling you that Greivis and his teammates won’t be playing in the Olympics this year. That said, it’s not his fault.

In game one against Aminu and Nigeria, Vasquez played the role as scorer. We already know that he’s capable of dishing the rock (10.2 assists/48 as a starter last year), but it’s nice to see him dropping 24 points on 19 shots in only 32 minutes. He talked a bit about his performance after the game.

In game two, a big loss against Lithuania that wound up being the final game for Venezuela, Vasquez nearly replicated his performance from game one. He scored 24 points yet again, this time on 18 shots. He added a team high 7 assists versus just three turnovers.

You might not think that Vasquez’s scoring numbers are too impressive, but he’s going to wind up being the second leading scorer in the tournament in terms of points per game. If the rest of his teammates hadn’t gone a pitiful 18-59 from the field against Nigeria, and 20-46 against Lithuania, Venezuela would have probably advanced to the quarterfinals. Instead, they were eliminated as a result of their overall +/-.

The Olympic Qualifying tournament probably won’t produce a champion, or even a medalist, but it’s one heck of a tournament and deserves more attention than it gets. Tune in tomorrow and yell so loud that Aminu hears you all the way from the host (edit-country) of Venezuela. I’m sure he’ll appreciate it.


  1. Kempleton

    July 8, 2012 at 4:25 am

    Great article Joe. Looks like Vasquez played very well in those 2 games. And Aminu is still trying to find himself but apparently getting better every day. He has scored in double digits in all 4 games. He could have produced better on boards. But, Nigeria beats Lithuania and Greece back-to-back, WOW! Big time congrats to them.

    You need a correction! The section about Aminu says Nigeria will play Puerto-Rico tomorrow. As you said at the intro, they will play Dominican Republic. 🙂

    Good luck to Aminu tomorrow.

    • sundance

      July 8, 2012 at 11:03 am

      Yes they can’t let up. DR is led by Horford and they’re coached by Calipari.

      The Olympics is going to be fun to watch because the games will be competitive. The parity among the different countries has grown leaps and bounds.

    • Joe Gerrity

      July 8, 2012 at 12:58 pm

      ah! Sorry about those two slip-ups.

      My bad.

  2. nolaDarius

    July 8, 2012 at 4:33 am

    Aminu looked ok in the semis but turned the ball over alot probably due to having to set everything up for his team but he is improving.

    • aswemajor

      July 8, 2012 at 3:44 pm

      Aminu is a huge asset for them. He is their only true center

  3. Jordy

    July 8, 2012 at 5:56 am

    Joe, it’s time you get some rest! Venezuela is the country, Caracus is the city. 😉 Thanks for another great story.

    • Joe Gerrity

      July 8, 2012 at 12:59 pm

      Apologies again! Brain was pretty tired.

      • Jordy

        July 8, 2012 at 1:44 pm

        Yea, I saw your tweet,” I stayed up way too late writing an article about @farouq1 and @GreivisVasquez playing in the Olympic qualifier.”

        No need for apologies!

  4. Ryan

    July 8, 2012 at 6:52 am

    I love the Olympics so much. Looking forward to U.S. v. France. Is the roster for the French out yet?

    • Josh

      July 8, 2012 at 10:55 am

      I don’t have NBA TV. Is there any other way I can watch the game? Thanks.

      • Josh

        July 8, 2012 at 10:56 am

        Sorry. I didn’t mean to reply to you.

      • Jordy

        July 8, 2012 at 1:41 pm

        Video quality isn’t the best, but it’s all I found.

      • Josh

        July 8, 2012 at 7:02 pm

        Thanks. About to watch.

  5. edbballin504

    July 8, 2012 at 11:04 am

    Will Vasquez be on the Hornets Summer League team since his team won’t be in the Olympics?

    • edbballin504

      July 8, 2012 at 11:05 am

      Also, If Aminu loses and doesn’t make it, will he be on the summer league team as well? Thanks.

    • Joe Gerrity

      July 8, 2012 at 3:38 pm

      I’m pretty sure that both of them will play if they aren’t in the Olympics.

  6. Chuck

    July 8, 2012 at 11:30 am

    Great stuff. Joe is killing it with this Olympics coverage.

  7. John in MO

    July 8, 2012 at 11:44 am

    A shout out to GV for doing the Bees proud. Also, good luck Chief. Bring the D and shut down team DR. The Olympics would be a great way to get AA ready for a full time starting spot. If he can establish some consistency, that would really help. Go Chief!

  8. Josh

    July 8, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    Anywhere people can watch the game besides NBA TV?

  9. Mark

    July 8, 2012 at 1:39 pm

    I went to high school with Ike. Cool fellow, hopefully he’ll be healthy for us to sign. He’s a rather high production off-the-bench guy, limited by foul trouble.

  10. Pingback: Coach K Speaks About Team USA | New Orleans Hornets |

  11. Josh

    July 8, 2012 at 7:10 pm

    I tried watching Nigeria vs Dominican Republic on, but it isn’t working. I saw on an HR thread that there was another website, but I don’t remember it. Do any of y’all know the other website?

  12. Kempleton

    July 8, 2012 at 8:34 pm

    Nigeria: 64 – DR: 64 5:34 remaining in the 4th!

  13. Kempleton

    July 8, 2012 at 8:47 pm

    1 min remaining, Nigeria up 82-73!
    Aminu with 14 points, 6 rebounds, 5 blocks!
    Looks like He is going to London instead of Vegas! 🙂
    Good luck to him and to Nigeria at the Olympics!!!

  14. Jay Dogon

    July 8, 2012 at 9:24 pm

    I’ve been keeping up with this tournament since game 1 and it really is a shame that Greivis didn’t have more help because he was truly balling and in front of his home nation no less! Aminu seems to have played better with each game with the exception of the Greece game and I wish him the best in the Olympics. Also that Macedonia team is lead by local New Orleans Legend, former O. Perry Walker, New Orleans Privateer, and even New Orleans Hornet for a short stint Bo Mccalebb! He has a great story and is arguably the best PG in Europe right now. He has been balling in this tournament too and deserves a tremendous amount of credit. Here’s his story. and how he got to be on Macedonia and is a legend their.

  15. asifyouknow

    July 10, 2012 at 7:26 pm

    Mr. Geritty how can you be surprised with Vasquez scoring, did you see him play in college….I thionk his coaches have been keeping him in check..

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