European squads are likely to sweep the medal table in the men’s 3×3 basketball tournament at the Tokyo Olympics, as teams from the continent secured six of the eight qualifying positions in the event.
They’ll be joined by China and hosts Japan, both of whom are long shots to win gold in the first-ever edition of the new format.
US fails to qualify for men’s 3×3 basketball
One obvious name is missing from that field: the United States. Led by former Purdue standout Robbie Hummel, the American men won the 2019 FIBA 3×3 World Cup. But they fell to the Netherlands in the quarterfinals of the Olympic qualifying tournament, where only the top three teams secured spots.
Unlike in the women’s event, the lack of NBA participation – Hummel was the only former NBA player on the US roster – levels the playing field a bit compared to standard, five-on-five basketball. But even without the US in the field, a nation with plenty of international success tops the betting odds in the 3×3 basketball tournament.
|Olympic Men’s 3×3 Basketball Odds (via BetMGM)|
|Serbia: +130||Latvia: +220|
|Russian Olympic Committee: +800||Netherlands: +1000|
|Poland: +1400||Belgium: +1800|
|China: +3300||Japan: +4000|
Serbia comes in as the +130 favorite, according to BetMGM. The Serbians won the silver medal in men’s basketball at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, and won four of the six 3×3 basketball World Cup tournaments ever held. That resume dwarfs the accomplishments of the other teams in the field.
Latvia (+220) has emerged as a potential contender. The Latvian 3×3 basketball team won silver in the 2019 World Cup – losing to the Americans in the final – and won the 2017 European Championships. Latvia also went an impressive 6-1 in the Olympic qualifying tournament, only dropping a 20-18 decision to Poland in the semifinal before rebounding to beat France and advance to Tokyo.
Large gap after heavy favorites
While it would be overstating things to suggest that everyone else is playing for bronze, there’s definitely a gap between Serbia, Latvia, and the rest of the field.
Russia (+800) enters as the third choice. Its biggest success came in 2019 when the Russians won the European Games 3×3 basketball tournament in Minsk. But Russia has only medaled once in a World Cup, finishing third back in 2014 when they hosted the tournament. They finished 16th in the 2019 World Cup, going just 1-3.
The Netherlands (+1000) looked good in qualifying, knocking off the US. They’ve also won silver at both the 2017 and 2018 World Cups. But the Dutch team slipped to 11th in 2019, despite hosting the tournament.
Poland (+1400) has proven to be a competitive squad as of late, finishing third at the 2019 World Cup before qualifying for the Olympics. Belgium (+1800) won the Universality Olympic Qualifying Tournament, but has no other notable international success. China (+3300) won the Asian Games in 2018, and qualified thanks to a high FIBA ranking, while hosts Japan (+4000) have never finished better than 11th in the World Cup.
The men’s 3×3 basketball tournament tips off on July 24, and wraps up on July 28.