Team USA strong favourites to win tournament despite key withdrawals…
The inaugural FIBA World Cup gets underway in Spain on Saturday, and the question remains, which nation will be able to stop Team USA?
It has been far from a perfect camp for the Americans this summer, as after the withdrawals of Kevin Love and Kevin Durant, Indiana Pacers star Paul George sustained an unfortunate broken leg after a collision with the basket stanchion during an exhibition game.
His injury undoubtedly shook the whole camp, and coupled with the fact that Olympic champions such as LeBron James and Chris Paul are not there to lead the team forward, it could be enough to derail them.
However, as expected, Coach Mike Krzyzewski still has a star-studded roster at his disposal, and Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose has been a shining light through training camp.
The 25-year-old has played in just 10 games over the past two NBA seasons, but having seemingly proven he has recovered and with Tom Thibodeau by his side to ensure he is managed well, he will hope to have a significant impact on proceedings in Spain.
As for the hosts, the boast a highly talented team that includes the Gasol brothers, Serge Ibaka and Ricky Rubio. As a result, they are expected to be the biggest threat to Team USA’s ambition of winning another tournament, and looking at match-ups, their frontcourt could cause Coack K all sorts of problems in the championship game.
However, both nations will not be looking that far ahead, as it is demonstrated in the schedule below that there is a long path ahead before they can discuss winning the inaugural World Cup trophy.
FIBA World Cup 2014 – Complete pool play schedule:
|Aug. 30||6:30 a.m.||Croatia vs. Philippines||B|
|6:30 a.m.||Ukraine vs. Dominican Republic||C|
|7:30 a.m.||Angola vs. South Korea||D|
|9:30 a.m.||Egypt vs. Serbia||A|
|10:00 a.m.||New Zealand vs. Turkey||C|
|11:30 a.m.||Austria vs. Slovenia||D|
|11:30 a.m.||Puerto Rico vs. Argentina||B|
|Noon||France vs. Brazil||A|
|2:00 p.m.||Mexico vs. Lithuania||D|
|2:00 p.m.||Greece vs. Senegal||B|
|3:30 p.m.||United States vs. Finland||C|
|4:00 p.m.||Iran vs. Spain||A|
|Aug. 31||6:30 a.m.||Dominican Republic vs. New Zealand||C|
|7:30 a.m.||South Korea vs. Australia||D|
|7:30 a.m.||Argentina vs. Croatia||B|
|9:30 a.m.||Serbia vs. France||A|
|10:00 a.m.||Finland vs. Ukraine||C|
|11:30 a.m.||Slovenia vs. Mexico||D|
|11:30 a.m.||Senegal vs. Puerto Rico||B|
|Noon||Brazil vs. Iran||A|
|2:00 p.m.||Lithuania vs. Angola||D|
|2:00 p.m.||Philippines vs. Greece||B|
|3:30 p.m.||Turkey vs. United States||C|
|4:00 p.m.||Spain vs. Egypt||A|
|Sept. 1||6:30 a.m.||Croatia vs. Senegal||B|
|9:30 a.m.||Iran vs. Serbia||A|
|11:30 a.m.||Argentina vs. Philippines||B|
|Noon||France vs. Egypt||A|
|2:00 p.m.||Puerto Rico vs. Greece||B|
|4:00 p.m.||Brazil vs. Spain||A|
|Sept. 2||7:30 a.m.||Angola vs. Mexico||D|
|9:00 a.m.||Ukraine vs. Turkey||C|
|11:30 a.m.||Australia vs. Lithuania||D|
|11:30 a.m.||United States vs. New Zealand||C|
|2:00 p.m.||South Korea vs. Slovenia||D|
|3:30 p.m.||Finland vs. Dominican Republic||C|
|Sept. 3||7:30 a.m.||Mexico vs. Australia||D|
|7:30 a.m.||Philippines vs. Puerto Rico||B|
|9:00 a.m.||New Zealand vs. Ukraine||C|
|9:30 a.m.||Egypt vs. Iran||A|
|11:30 a.m.||Slovenia vs. Angola||D|
|11:30 a.m.||Senegal vs. Argentina||B|
|11:30 a.m.||Turkey vs. Finland||C|
|Noon||Serbia vs. Brazil||A|
|2:00 p.m.||Lithuania vs. South Korea||D|
|2:00 p.m.||Greece vs. Croatia||B|
|3:30 p.m.||Dominican Republic vs. United States||C|
|4:00 p.m.||Spain vs. France||A|
|Sept. 4||7:30 a.m.||Australia vs. Angola||D|
|8:00 a.m.||Senegal vs. Philippines||B|
|9:00 a.m.||Finland vs. New Zealand||C|
|9:30 a.m.||Brazil vs. Egypt||A|
|11:30 a.m.||South Korea vs. Mexico||D|
|11:30 a.m.||Ukraine vs. United States||C|
|Noon||Iran vs. France||A|
|Noon||Croatia vs. Puerto Rico||B|
|3:30 p.m.||Lithuania vs. Slovenia||D|
|3:30 p.m.||Turkey vs. Dominican Republic||C|
|4:00 p.m.||Serbia vs. Spain||A|
|4:00 p.m.||Argentina vs. Greece||B|
With the group games concluding, the round of 16 will be played between September 6-7 with the quarter-finals scheduled to be played on September 9-10. The semi-finals follow between September 11-12, the third-place playoff takes place on September 13 and then the tournament concludes with the final on September 14 in Madrid.
The likes of Serbia, Greece and Argentina will likely be outside bets for the tournament, but without their talismanic leader in Manu Ginobili, there are questions regarding the Argentinians.
France would be included in this conversation had they had San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker available, but given his absence, it is unlikely that the French have the quality in depth to go all the way.
From an individual standpoint, it will be worth monitoring Rose’s progression, while the ‘Greek Freak’, Giannis Antetokounmpo, promises to produce a tournament highlight reel all of his making given his athleticism and speed.
Nevertheless, Spain will still be the biggest threat to Team USA, and we predict that the two will clash in the championship game as many expect. While it is impossible to predict how the game will go, the hosts are well placed given their front-court to cause an ‘upset’ of sort.
Prediction: Spain to win the FIBA World Cup 2014.