USA Basketball won’t have to wait long for intrigue at the Tokyo Olympics.
The U.S. men will open the Olympics against France on July 25, and the U.S. women were placed in the same group as host Japan when the draw for the rescheduled Tokyo Games was held Tuesday. The draw took place in Mies, Switzerland, at FIBA headquarters.
The U.S. men will also face Iran on July 28 and the team that emerges from the qualifying tournament in Victoria, Canada, on July 31 as its other Group A rivals. The last time the Americans played France was in 2019 in the quarterfinals of the Basketball World Cup in China — when France prevailed to end the U.S. medal hopes.
“It’s exciting to learn more about the Olympic schedule and who our preliminary round opponents will be in Tokyo,” U.S. men’s coach Gregg Popovich said. “The three Olympic preliminary groups appear well balanced, and there are a good number of teams who have legitimate shots at the gold medal in Tokyo.”
The other men’s pairings saw Australia, Nigeria and the winners of qualifying tournaments in Split, Croatia, and Belgrade, Serbia, in Group B — with Japan, Argentina, Spain and the winner of a qualifying tournament in Kaunas, Lithuania, in Group C. Spain beat Argentina in the Basketball World Cup gold medal game in 2019.
The U.S. men are seeking a fourth consecutive gold medal. The Tokyo Games open July 23, one day after the NBA says is the last possible date for this season’s NBA Finals. USA Basketball's roster won’t likely be finalized until June at the earliest and will undoubtedly hinge on how deep some players like LeBron James go into the postseason.
The games were rescheduled from last year and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has prompted some to suggest they will not — or should not — happen this summer either.
“Our collaboration with the NBA and the World Health Organization will ensure that the latest know-how is used for the protection of basketball players, being constantly shared with the IOC and Tokyo organizers,” FIBA secretary general Andreas Zagklis said.