If the Dominican Republic is to make the Olympics for the first time in the country’s history, the historic breakthrough will have to wait another day. Lithuania, ranked No. 5 in the world by FIBA, denied John Calipari’s team a berth in the Olympics with a 109-83 victory on Saturday in the semifinals of the 2012 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Caracas, Venezuela.
Left for dead after the second quarter, the Dominican Republic is now just one win away from its first-ever Olympic berth. Trailing by 20 midway through the second quarter, John Calipari’s Dominican Republic team pulled off a stunning comeback to shock Macedonia (ranked No. 33 in the FIBA world rankings) 86-76 and secure a spot in the semifinals of the 2012 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
Friends and fans of the Dominican Republic National Team, we didn’t play well today. With that being said, I like my team and I fully expect them to be ready to play Friday. This team is together and they are their brother’s keeper.
When a historic Olympics berth is on the line, it’s all about surviving and advancing. The Dominican Republic, seeking its first-ever Olympics berth, did exactly that Tuesday in its opening game of the 2012 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Caracas, Venezuela.
Nearly three months since capturing his first NCAA championship, John Calipari won his first international gold medal on Sunday. The Dominican Republic, led by Coach Cal for the second straight year, won the Centrobasket championship Sunday night. The Dominicans defeated archrival Puerto Rico in their backyard of San Juan, Puerto Rico, holding off the Puerto Ricans 80-72 in the gold medal game.
In their final game of the 2011 FIBA Americas Championship for both teams, the Dominicans rolled Puerto Rico 103-89 in the third-place game in Mar del Plata Argentina. The Dominican Republic not only notched a win over a bitter rival, the Caribbean country also captured its highest finish in an Olympics qualifier with a bronze medal.
The Dominicans were overwhelmed 84-58 Thursday night by Argentina on the Argentines’ home soil in Mar del Plata, but Brazil’s rout of Puerto Rico sets up a Dominican Republic-Brazil matchup on Saturday at 8:15 p.m. ET for a shot at the 2012 Olympics. Of the three opponents left for the Dominicans, the Brazilians are the only team they’ve beaten.
After watching his team get outrebounded, “outhustled” and “outworked” in the second half of doubleheader nightcap, a hot and irritated John Calipari said this letdown loss simply came down to toughness. One team (Baylor) had it. The other (Kentucky) didn’t.