This past week in Venezuela, 12 national teams competed in the 2012 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament, vying for one of the final three spots at the 2012 Olympic Games in London later this month. Former Pitt guard and Dominican native Ronald Ramon helped lead the Dominican Republic to the semifinals this past weekend, one win away from London. Unfortunately, the Dominican team would lose both their semifinal and the third place game.
The Dominican team, coached by Pittsburgh native and Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari, finished group play with one win and one loss, but qualified for one of the eight spots in Friday night's quarterfinals. The quarterfinal match-up against Macedonia proved to be troublesome at first. Trailing by 20 points early in the first half and by 13 at halftime, the Dominicans stormed back behind a 58 point second half to pull within one win of an Olympic berth, 86-76. Ramon played a key role in this comeback with a 13 point night, ten of which came in the second half. Ramon also hit three big 3-pointers, including one that brought the Macedonian's lead down to three points.
In the semifinal game, the Dominicans would never come close to Lithuania, losing 109-83. The third place game against Nigeria would prove to be more competitive as the Nigerians held only a two point lead going into the fourth quarter. Behind former Arizona State All-American Ike Diogu's 25 points, the Nigerians would eventually pull away for the 88-73 win.
Ramon would finish the tournament with 28 points in five games.
A University of Pittsburgh athlete has not won an Olympic medal since Roger Kingdom took the gold in the 110-meter hurdles at both the 1984 Los Angeles and 1988 Seoul games.