33 years after its creation by Massachusetts native James Naismith in 1891, basketball was accepted by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as an official Olympic sport, with its first debut at the 1936 Berlin Games.
By the 1976 Montreal Games (and 20 years after its initial rejection), a women’s basketball division was accepted, and today features just as many teams as the men’s division.
For the last six summer Olympic Games, 24 teams (12 men’s and 12 women’s) have competed in the Games. The US Olympic basketball teams have proven, by far, to be the most successful, winning 15 of the 18 tournaments, with the women’s team winning 8 out of 10 of those tournaments, including the 2016 Rio Games.
With the 2021 Tokyo Olympic games quickly approaching, let’s take a closer look at the world of Olympic basketball, from the phases leading up to the final game to the teams that are predicted to give their competitors a run for their money. We’ll also share the perfect pole padding to protect the basketball fanatic in your home from hurting themselves during an intense pick-up game!
Olympic Basketball Events
There are two phases or events leading up to a final faceoff for the gold and include a quarterfinal, semi-final, and championship game. You can see how the phases are broken down in the visual below.
Phase One - The Group Phase
In the first phase, (the group phase) twelve teams are divided into three groups (A, B, and C) of four teams each.
In the quarter-finals, each team plays all other teams within its group for a total of three games. The teams that place first and second in each group, along with the two best third-place teams, will be the four teams to qualify for the semi-finals. Below is a visual representation of the men and women phase one groupings for the 2021 Tokyo Games.
Phase Two - The Final Phase
Phase two determines who will play against each other in the battle for the gold medal. Here’s how it works:
The winners from each of the three groups and the second-place team with the best results are placed into drawing D, while the other two remaining second-place teams and two best third-place teams are put into drawing E. Teams from the same group cannot be drawn against each other. Once the teams are drawn, and the bracket is created, the teams will play against each other in a single-elimination game.
The winner of each tournament will go on to play the other, with the winner of the final game earning the gold medal, the losing team in the final game earning the silver medal, and a third-place playoff between the losing semi-finalists to determine the winner of the bronze medal.
Tokyo 2021: Expected Victors vs. Unsuspecting Underdogs
While both US Olympic basketball teams have dominated on the world stage several times, 2021 is already shaping up to be quite a sight for spectators around the globe. The women’s US team may find their hands full right out of the gate with team Japan, which is expected to outperform expectations, right alongside team China.
The US men’s team doesn’t have it so easy this time around, either. Even stacked with the best American basketball has to offer, like Steph Curry, LeBron James, and Damian Lillard, team USA can’t lose sight of Japan’s “home-field advantage,” and the vigor Japan’s up-and-coming basketball player Rui Hachimura is ready to unleash for all the world to see come late July. Of course, if you ask International Basketball Federation (FIBA) writer Igor Curkovic who he suspects to see on the podium, he’d be quick to answer with the US, Australia, and quite possibly, team Spain.
Shoot Hoops At Home in Safety and Style with We Sell Mats™
Whether you’re a weekend warrior who loves to play pickup games, or a dedicated athlete honing in on your craft at any given moment, We Sell Mats™ makes it easy to find the safe and reliable basketball padding perfect for your home basketball court walls or the high-density pole padding to wrap around the driveway hoop. Between working on layups and practicing new trick shots, be sure to tune into the 2021 Tokyo games starting on July 24th to see the world's best compete for the highest title in sports history.