(, July 29) -- Participating teams in the Olympic Men's Tournament are keeping busy with friendly matches and warm-up tournaments to prepare for Beijing competition.
On July 29 the FIBA (International Basketball Federation) Diamond Ball Tournament for Men begins in Nanjing, China, with six nations competing into two groups: Angola, Australia and China in group A; and Argentina, Iran and Serbia in group B.
With 2004 Olympic champion Argentina, as well as Angola, Australia and Iran, each the champion of their respective continents, the Diamond Ball pits high level competitors against each other the week before the start of the Beijing Games.
Only Serbia among the Diamond Ball participants will not play in thethis year, although they are coming from winning the Mechel Cup in Moscow, where they beat Latvia, Ukraine and even managed to squeeze past 2007 EuroBasket champion Russia, 75-74.
Olympic competitors skipping the Diamond Ball are still playing in other warm-up matches. 2006 FIBA World Champion Spain recently beat Argentina on home territory twice, once in a friendly match in Madrid, and again in the last game of the Torneo de Ourense, where Spain took the 2004 gold medal team 87-62.
The United States, meanwhile, is playing hard in practice games and trying not to take their "Dream Team" reputation for granted. They are especially keen to turn their NBA star-studded roster into a cohesive unit by Games time in order to reclaim their lost position at the top of the podium, prompting a new nickname, the "Redeem Team."
After sitting out the United States' first warm-up game on July 25 against Canada, Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James joined the team's first practice in Macao with his recently sprained right ankle taped up on Monday, July 28.
In Macao, the United States will play Turkey on July 31 and Olympic men's group A team Lithuania on August 1. Then the US team goes to, where they will play two more group A teams, Russia on August 3 and Australia on August 5. James plans to play in the upcoming Macao and Shanghai games.
The United States will play in group B at the Olympics, along with China, Angola, Spain, Germany and Greece.
Group A will include Lithuania, Russia and Australia, as well as Argentina, Iran and, Croatia
Below is the schedule for the Diamond Ball Tournament in Nanjing beginning on July 29. This is not the first FIBA tournament hosted in Nanjing; the FIBA World Championship for Women was held in the Jiangsu province capital in 2002.
FIBA Diamond Ball Tournament
29 July 2008 16:00 Argentina vs. Iran
19:30 China vs. Angola
30 July 2008 16:00 Australia vs. China
19:30 Iran vs. Serbia
31 July 2008 16:00 Angola vs. Australia
19:30 Serbia vs. Argentina
Finals will be played on August 1.
(NOTE: All times are UTC/GMT +8)