Host City: Ciudad de México, Mexico
Date Started: October 13, 1968
Date Finished: October 23, 1968
Participants: 191 (191 men and 0 women) from 16 countries
Youngest Participant: Conrado Pérez (17 years, 297 days)
Oldest Participant: Mansour Diagne (35 years, 266 days)
Most Medals (Athlete): 36 athletes with 1 medal
Most Medals (Country): 3 countries with 1 medal
The 1968 Olympic basketball tournament was held at the Juan Escutio Palacio de los Deportes, or Palace of Sports, located in the Magdalena Mixhuca Sports City, near the Mexico City International Airport. It was built specifically for the 1968 Olympics and was opened only one month before the Games started. It is still in active use as a concert, entertainment, and sports venue.
Qualifying was used to select the 16 nations competing in Mexico City. The top five teams from the Tokyo Olympics qualified (United States, Soviet Union, Brazil, Puerto Rico, Italy), as did Mexico as the host nation. Five tournaments served as qualifying tournaments, with the top two teams in each making the field. These were as follows – European Qualifying Tournament (Bulgaria, Yugoslavia); a Pre-Olympic Tournament (Poland, Spain); the 1967 Centrobasket Championships (Cuba, Panama); the 1967 Asian Championships (Korea, the Philippines); and the 1968 African Championships (Morocco, Senegal).
The format was the same as in 1964, with two groups of eight teams each who played a round-robin format to advance the top two teams in each group to the semi-finals. As they had at every Olympics from 1936-64, the United States won the gold medal and was undefeated in doing so. The USA had yet to lose an Olympic basketball game. That streak would end in 1972 in a controversial final game. For the first time since they entered the Olympics in 1952, the Soviet Union did not win the silver medal, as they lost to Yugoslavia in the semi-finals, although the USSR did win the bronze medal.