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Men's groups finalized for Beijing Olympics
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The International Basketball Federation on Sunday finalized the two groups for the Beijing Games men's tournament minutes after Germany won the final qualifying spot with a win over Puerto Rico.

Germany's Dirk Nowitzki (left) struggles for the ball against Puerto Rico's Jose Juan Barea during their FIBA Olympic qualifying basketball game in Athens on Sunday. (Reuters)

Germany and Greece, which had qualified on Saturday, will play in Group B, which already includes Angola, host China, world champion Spain and a US team eager to regain the top Olympic spot after winning bronze four years ago.

Croatia, the third qualifier, was drawn in Group A alongside 2004 Olympic champion Argentina, Australia, Iran, Lithuania and European champion Russia.

"I had no preference as to what group we would be drawn in," Greece coach Panagiotis Giannakis told reporters after the draw in Athens.

"There are seven to eight teams that could all win a medal and we want to play the best and leave our own mark in the Olympic tournament."

Greece, tipped by many as a potential medal-winning team, qualified with ease, winning all its group and knockout matches by a margin of at least 20 points.

"When you come up against such strong teams you have also the opportunity to understand your own team better and that is good and we want that at Olympics," he said.

Germany coach Dirk Bauermann said his team was not aiming high despite possessing two NBA players in Dirk Nowitzki and Chris Kaman.

"We have no expectations. We are just happy to be part of the elite, of the world's best teams," he told reporters.

The top four teams from each group go through to the quarterfinals.

The men's competition starts on Aug 10, two days after the Games opens and ends on Aug 24, the final day of the Games.

(Agencies via China Daily July 22, 2008)

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