Basketball at the 1936 Summer Olympics

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1st Olympic Basketball Tournament
Berlin 1936
Tournament details
Olympics 1936 Summer Olympics
Host nation Germany
City Berlin
Duration August 7 – August 14
Men's tournament
Teams 21
1 Gold medalists  United States
2 Silver medalists  Canada
3 Bronze medalists  Mexico
 London 1948 →

Basketball at the 1936 Summer Olympics was the first appearance of the sport as an official medal event. The tournament was played between 7 August and 14 August 1936 in Berlin, Germany. 23 nations entered the competition, making basketball the largest tournament of the team sports.

The International Basketball Federation, which is the governing body of international basketball, used the 1936 tournament to experiment with outdoor basketball. Lawn tennis courts were used for the competition. This caused problems when the weather was adverse, especially during the final game.

The medals were awarded by James Naismith, the inventor of basketball. All went to North American teams.


Gold Silver Bronze
 United States (USA)
Sam Balter
Ralph Bishop
Joe Fortenberry
Tex Gibbons
Francis Johnson
Carl Knowles
Frank Lubin
Art Mollner
Donald Piper
Jack Ragland
Willard Schmidt
Carl Shy
Duane Swanson
Bill Wheatley
 Canada (CAN)
Gordon Aitchison
Ian Allison
Art Chapman
Chuck Chapman
Edward Dawson
Irving Meretsky
Doug Peden
James Stewart
Malcolm Wiseman
Stanley Nantais
 Mexico (MEX)
Carlos Borja
Víctor Borja
Rodolfo Choperena
Luis de la Vega
Raúl Fernández
Andrés Gómez
Silvio Hernández
Francisco Martínez
Jesús Olmos
José Pamplona
Greer Skousen

Note: The International Olympic Committee medal database shows only these players as medalists. They all played at least one match during the tournament. The reserve players are not listed as medalists.



Third round onwards[edit]

Third round Fourth round Semifinals Final
           United States 56  
  Philippines 39       Philippines 23  
  Estonia 22         United States 25  
  Italy 27         Mexico 10  
  Chile 19       Italy 17  
  Mexico 28       Mexico 34  
  Japan 22         United States 19
  Canada 27         Canada 8
   Switzerland 9       Canada 41  
  Uruguay 28       Uruguay 21  
  Czechoslovakia 19         Canada 42   Bronze medal match
  Poland 33         Poland 15  
  Brazil 25       Poland (w/o) 2     Mexico 26
           Peru 0     Poland 12

Fifth-place classification[edit]

Preliminary round 5th place game
 Philippines 32
 Italy 14
 Philippines 32
 Uruguay 23
3  Uruguay (w/o) 2
 Peru 0

First round[edit]

Winners advanced to the second round. Losers competed in the first consolation round for another chance to move on.

  • Estonia def. France, 34–29
  • Chile def. Turkey, 30–16
  • Switzerland def. Germany, 25–18
  • Italy def. Poland, 44–28
  • Peru def. Egypt, 35–22
  • Latvia def. Uruguay, 20–17
  • Brazil def. Canada, 24–17
  • Japan def. China, 35–19
  • Mexico def. Belgium, 32–9
  • United States def. Spain, forfeit
  • Czechoslovakia def. Hungary, forfeit
  • Philippines

First consolation round[edit]

Winners returned to the main competition for the second round. Losers were out of the tournament.

  • Uruguay def. Belgium, 17–10
  • China def. France, 45–38
  • Egypt def. Turkey, 33–23
  • Canada def. Hungary, forfeit
  • Germany def. Spain, forfeit
  • Poland

Second round[edit]

Winners advanced to the third round. Losers competed in the second consolation round for another chance to move on.

  • Philippines def. Mexico, 32–30
  • Japan def. Poland, 43–31
  • Uruguay def. Egypt, 36–23
  • Peru def. China, 29–21
  • United States def. Estonia, 52–28
  • Italy def. Germany, 58–16
  • Switzerland def. Czechoslovakia, 25–12
  • Chile def. Brazil, 23–18
  • Canada def. Latvia, 34–23

Second consolation round[edit]

  • Poland def. Latvia, 28–23
  • Brazil def. China, 32–14
  • Mexico def. Egypt, 32–10
  • Czechoslovakia def. Germany, 20–0
  • Estonia

Third round[edit]

The third round was the first to cause automatic elimination for losers, with no consolation round. Winners advanced to the fourth round.

  • Philippines def. Estonia, 39–22
  • Italy def. Chile, 27–19
  • Mexico def. Japan, 28–22
  • Canada def. Switzerland, 27–9
  • Uruguay def. Czechoslovakia, 28–19
  • Poland def. Brazil, 33–25
  • United States, BYE
  • Peru, BYE

Fourth round[edit]

Winners of the fourth round advanced to the medals round, with losers playing in classification matches.

  • United States def. Philippines, 56–23
  • Mexico def. Italy, 34–17
  • Canada def. Uruguay, 41–21
  • Poland def. Peru, forfeit

The National Olympic Team from Peru abandoned the Olympic games in protest to the actions of German authorities in the football tournament.

Classification 5–8[edit]

Preliminary matches[edit]

  • Philippines def. Italy, 32–14
  • Uruguay def. Peru, forfeit

Peru forfeit: See above.

Fifth place match[edit]

  • Philippines def. Uruguay, 33–23

Medals round[edit]


  • United States def. Mexico, 25–10
  • Canada def. Poland, 42–15

Bronze medal match[edit]

  • Mexico def. Poland, 26–12


The final was played on 14 August in bad conditions. The contest was played outdoors, on a dirt court in a driving rain. Due to the quagmire, the teams could not dribble and the score was held to a minimum. High scorer in the game was Joe Fortenberry for the United States with 7 points. In addition, there were no seats for spectators and the nearly 1,000 in attendance had to stand in the rain throughout the entire game.

  • United States def. Canada, 19–8

Participating nations[edit]

For the team rosters see: Basketball at the 1936 Summer Olympics - Men's team squads.

Each country was allowed to enter one team of 14 players and they all were eligible for participation.

A total of 199(*) basketball players from 21 nations competed at the Berlin Games:

(*) NOTE: There are only players counted, which participated in one game at least.

Not all reserve players are known.


Note: Hungary and Spain withdrew before competition started