Buddy Hield and the Bahamas are a step closer to the Paris Olympics.

Hield scored 24 points, Valdez Edgecombe Jr. added 20 and the Bahamas beat Finland 96-85 on Tuesday in the first game of the Olympic qualifying tournament at Valencia, Spain.

“We grinded it out. Grinded out a win today,” Hield said. “Staying together, figuring it out. Game of basketball is a game of runs. First half, we didn’t quite figure it out.”

In the second half, they did. The Bahamas closed the game on a 44-21 run over the final 17 minutes, erasing what was a 12-point second-half deficit.

The tournament in Spain is one of four that started on Tuesday to determine the last four spots in the men’s basketball field for the Paris Olympics. Other tournaments are being held in Greece, Latvia and Puerto Rico, all of them also starting on Tuesday. Group play at all four sites continues through Thursday, with semifinal games Saturday and four games with Olympic berths on the line set for Sunday.

“We stayed together at the right time,” Bahamas coach Chris DeMarco said. “We had a massive third quarter.”

Deandre Ayton scored 19 and Eric Gordon added 16 for the winners, who can advance to the qualifier’s knockout round by beating Poland on Wednesday. It is an interesting mix for the Bahamas; three starters are NBA players, but the starting point guard is Lourawls Nairn — a former Michigan State player and now an assistant coach at Bowling Green.

“He’s a coaches’ dream and I think the players love playing with him,” DeMarco said. “He definitely belongs and he could be doing this for a living, but he pursued a different career.”

Mikael Jantunen and Edon Maxhuni each scored 20 for Finland, which faces Poland on Thursday.

Brazil 81, Montenegro 72

At Riga, Latvia, Brazil trailed for most of the game but outscored Montenegro 29-16 in the fourth quarter to pull off the comeback.

Bruno Caboclo had 25 points and nine rebounds for Brazil, while Marcelinho Huertas added 17 points.

Nikola Vucevic led Montenegro with 17 points and 13 rebounds.

Montenegro must beat Cameroon on Wednesday to keep hopes of reaching the semifinals alive. Brazil faces Cameroon on Thursday.

Latvia 83, Georgia 55

At Riga, host Latvia outscored Georgia 28-11 in the second quarter to take complete control and rolled to the opening win.

Arturs Strautins scored 18 points on 5-for-5 shooting to lead a balanced Latvian scoring attack, while Mareks Mejeris scored 11 (also shooting 5-for-5) and Rolands Smits finished with 10.

Sandro Mamukelashvili led Georgia with 14 points.

Latvia can clinch a semifinal spot by beating the Philippines on Wednesday. Georgia and the Philippines play on Thursday to close the group round.

Dominican Republic 90, Egypt 77

At Piraeus, Greece, Jean Montero scored 17 points, and the Dominican Republic used a 14-0 run spanning the end of the second quarter and start of the third quarter to pull away.

Chris Duarte scored 14 points, Victor Liz had 12 and Angel Nunez finished with 11 for the Dominican Republic.

Ahmed Metwaly led Egypt with 24 points.

The Dominican Republic can clinch a semifinal spot if it beats Greece on Wednesday. Egypt plays Greece on Thursday and must win to have any hope of advancing to the semifinals.

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AP Summer Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/2024-paris-olympic-games