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With three Olympians, Rio gets relevant for Nets


A week ago, the Olympics looked like it would be mildly interesting to Nets fans. The team's 2015 draft pick, Juan Pablo Vaulet, was fighting for a spot on the Argentine national team and looked like he'd be the only Nets "property" in Rio de Janiero.

On Saturday, Bojan Bogdanovic hit the dagger in an upset of Italy and Croatia won a spot in the Olympics for the first time since 2008.  Then, in rapid order over the past few days, the Nets came to agreements with Greivis Vasquez of Venezuela and Luis Scola of Argentina.  Moreover, Vaulet looks like he will make the final cut and Will Weaver, assistant to Kenny Atkinson, will serve as an assistant coach for Team Australia.

Suddenly, the Olympics are of interest (beyond Team USA, of course) to Brooklynites. So here is a schedule of those games of interest to Nets fans in the preliminary. If you're in Rio, all the games will be played at the Barra Carioca Arena.

August 6 -- Team USA opens against Serbia at 6 p.m. ET, and Venezuela, with Vasquez, goes up against Serbia at 9:30.

August 7 -- Croatia, with Bogdanovic, plays Spain at 6 p.m.. Argentina, with Scola and Vaulet, plays Nigeria.

August 8 -- Venezuela plays Team USA at 6 p.m.

August 9 -- It's the only all-Nets game of the preliminary round. Croatia and Argentina tip off at 9:30 p.m. .

August 10 -- Team USA plays Australia at 6 p.m. Venezuela plays against China at 9:30 p.m.

August 11 -- Croatia plays Brazil at 1:15 p.m. Argentina plays Lithuania at 9:30 p.m.

August 12 -- Team USA plays Serbia at 6 p.m. Venezuela plays France at 9:30 p.m.

August 13 -- Argentina plays Brazil at 1:15 p.m. Croatia plays Nigeria at 9:30 p.m.

August 14 -- Team USA plays France at 1:15 p.m. Venezuela plays Australia at 6 p.m.

August 15 -- Argentina plays Spain at 6 p.m. Croatia plays Lithuania at 9:30 p.m.

Two days later, on April 17, the medal round begins. The gold medal game is scheduled for August 21.  NBC will cover all the games, some on cable, some online. So, lots of hours of viewing!

The games will give Nets fans some interesting perspectives on issues that will effect the team. How much does Scola have left? Has Vasquez fully recovered from his surgery? Is Bogdanovic still the go-to guy for Croatia?  And how far along is Vaulet's development.  Also of interest is Argentina's Golden Generation. Scola, along with Manu Ginobili, Andres Nocioni and Carlos Delfino are trying to reignite the passion and skillset that won them a gold medal in 2004 and a bronze in 2008.

In the meantime, teams have "friendly" games scheduled. Argentina has five between now and when they arrive in Rio, including one vs. Cra.  Venezuela is on a European tour but Vazquez is in the U.S. to sign his Nets contract.  He returns to the team on Friday.

Yeah, we'll try to cover them all.