Host City: Beijing, China
Date Started: August 9, 2008
Date Finished: August 24, 2008
Participants: 287 (144 men and 143 women) from 19 countries
Youngest Participant: Ricky Rubio (17 years, 294 days)
Oldest Participant: Lisa Leslie (36 years, 34 days)
Most Medals (Athlete): 72 athletes with 1 medal
Most Medals (Country): United States (2 medals)
The 2008 Olympic basketball tournaments were held at the Beijing Aolinpike Lanqiuguan, or the Olympic Basketball Gymnasium, which was also known as the Beijing Wukesong Indoor Stadium, which was built specifically for the 2008 Olympics. It continues to host sports events and in 2011 was renamed the MasterCard Stadium.
The format was the same as from 1996-2004, with both men and women playing the same format – two 6-team groups, playing in a round-robin format, with the top four teams in each group advancing to the knock-out phase, beginning with the quarter-finals.
The 12 men’s teams were selected as follows – China as the host nation; Spain as the 2006 World Champion; 2007 Tournament of the Americas Championships (United States, Argentina); 2007 EuroBasket Championships (Russia, Lithuania); 2008 World Olympic Qualifying Tournament (Croatia, Greece, Germany); and the 2007 Oceanian, Asian, and African Champions (Australia, Iran, and Angola, respectively).
The 12 women’s teams were selected as follows – China as the host nation; Australia as the 2006 World Champion; the United States as the 2007 Tournament of the Americas Champion; Russia as the 2007 EuroBasket Champion; Korea as the 2007 Asian Champion; Mali as the 2007 African Champion; New Zealand, which finished third at the 2007 Oceanian Championship; and the top five finishers at the 2008 World Olympic Qualifying Tournament – Spain, Czech Republic, Latvia, Belarus, Brazil.
After losing the 2004 Olympic men’s tournament, the United States changed its approach to international basketball, hiring a dedicated US men’s coach, Mike Krzyzewski of Duke University, and formed a national team. The strategy worked at Beijing as the United States won the gold medal relatively easily, although it was still much more competitive than in the 1990s. The United States women, who had lost the 2006 World Championship in a rare upset, won their fourth consecutive gold medal, and their sixth of the last seven.