UPDATE: The Dominicans lost to Lithuania on Saturday. Francisco Garcia and company must now beat Nigeria on Sunday to earn a berth in London.
There are very few readers and commenters who have been around long enough* to know that Francisco Garcia is the only player on the current Sacramento Kings roster who was on the squad back when Sactown Royalty was created in October 2005. El Flaco, Geoff Petrie and the front office, Bobby Jackson, the Maloofs and the arena are basically all that remains. Over the years, Garcia has competed for the Dominican Republic in international play. One-time Kings summer league player Luis Flores also starred on those teams as El Flaco tried to lift his home nation up the continental rankings for obscurity to success.
Now, thanks to an injection of life from Al Horford, Jack Michael Martinez and John Calipari, Garcia and the Dominicans are not just reaching continental success: they are one win from the Olympics.
El Flaco led the D.R. in an incredible comeback win over FYR Macedonia (a really good club led by Bo McCalebb) on Friday, getting the island nation into the semifinals at the FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament. This bracket will send three teams to London: the two semifinal winners and the winner of a third-place game between the two semifinal losers. The Dominican Republic plays Lithuania at 5 p.m. PT today in the second semifinal. If they win, they are in. If they lose, they'll play the loser of Russia-Nigeria on Sunday for the final Olympic bid.
Needless to say, I'm rooting hard for Garcia. His NBA career, while lucrative, has been snakebitten. From untimely ankle sprains to that awful wrist fracture, things just haven't really worked out in Sacramento. But they are finally working out on the international scene, and he deserves to represent his country at the highest level. Best of luck to El Flaco and the Dominicans on Saturday.
* This is because there were very few readers and commenters in those days. Word to Carl and pookey.