Take a look at some key match-ups for teams and players in the upcoming World Cup
Every four years a spectacle is put on for the world to see. Countries put together teams in order to compete in this international tournament. The players don their country’s colors and attempt to bring their nation a World Cup trophy. Although the FIBA World Cup is not as renowned as its FIFA counterpart, the FIBA tournament presents its own magic.
With the opening game tipping off on August 29th, the second World Cup of 2014 will begin. A heavily favorited USA team will look to defend its 2010 World Cup title while attempting to tie Yugoslavia for the most Gold medals in the FIBA World Cup. The host nation Spain aspires to win a gold medal in Madrid. A young Brazilian lineup will try to shock the world. And in the meantime young prospects will show their talents to the world and more importantly the NBA GM’s/scouts/fans that will be watching and taking notes.
Group round games:
France v Brazil (August 30th): In the opening game for both these teams, this game could determine how far France and Brazil could potentially go. Some think these two teams are battling for second place in Group A (yes, yes they are), while others could see one of these teams winning Group A. This game matters because the loser of this matchup may very well lock up a third place finish in Group A. The significance of finishing 3rd in Group A means a potential quarter-final rematch with the winners of Group A. Good luck France. Fun match-up to think about is Tiago Splitter against Boris Diaw who are teammates in San Antonio but will be facing one another in this game. In the end the Brazilian depth in the front-court will lead to Brazil coming out on top of this one.
Brazil v Spain (September 1st): This matchup will decide who wins Group A. The Brazilians bring a fast passed small lineup that features strong talent out of the Novo Basquete Brasil (premier league for Brazilian basketball) with Alex Garcia and Marcelinho Huertas. But the Brazilian front-court (which includes Nenê, Splitter, and Varejao) will have a tough time being productive against the likes of Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka. Ricky Rubio may finally snap or break out, but this will be a big opportunity for him to set the tone for his performance for the remainder of the tournament.
France v Spain (September 3rd): France will be without their superstar point guard Tony Parker; however, this French team still has some solid pieces in place. Boris Diaw and Ian Mahinmi may struggle against the Gasol brothers, but if Nicolas Batum can get his shot going early there may be some broken Spanish hearts. Now at this point in the tournament the French will have potentially lost to the Brazilians and a win could shake up the top of the standings quite a bit (if Spain beats Brazil); look for the French players to step their game up and give the host’s team a run for their money.
Puerto Rico v Argentina (August 30th): Argentina’s “Golden Generation” of basketball players are in the twighlights of their careers and a new generation of players are about to emerge. In their first game in the World Cup look for Tayavek Gallizzi, Facundo Campazzo, and Nicolás Laprovíttola to leave their marks at this tournament. On the other side, look for NBA role player Jose Barea to step up with help from former NBA player Renaldo Balkman; both of whom played very well against the United States in their exhibition game. Also for a bit of a throwback, Andrés Nocioni will suit up for the Argentines, for any hard-core Chicago Bulls fans.
Greece v Croatia (September 3rd): Greek Freak! Yes I am on the bandwagon and you should be too. If you have not seen what Giannis Antetokounmpo can do then you are missing out. This is just raw athleticism that is going to be trained by an NBA coaching staff: this is code for he’s only going to be getting better. Even better, this may be one of the first looks at Dario Saric since the NBA Draft as he suits up for Croatia. We could be looking at two future international stars who will be playing in the NBA.
United States v Turkey (August 31st): Rematch of the 2010 World Cup Final, expect the same result, although maybe not as easily. With the Dream Team playing Finland the day before, look for things to get off to a slow start (only a single digit lead at the half). As much as the conversation has begun for the European game being much more focused around small-ball and Coach K’s small-ball preference, this tournament will see the rebirth of the big-man. This US squad has more bigs than anticipated, and with that, expect to see a lot of grinding the ball down low, especially against a taller team like Turkey.
Dominican Republic v United States (September 3rd): I probably should write down each of the US games because they will be that much fun to watch. The way this team is built, they will be able to play with the bigs of Turkey and turn around three days later to play a smaller faster Dominican Republic team. Think back to the exhibition game against Puerto Rico and how effective the bigs were navigating the court or how the guards had every shot drop for them in the second half. Personally I’d love to see the Splash Bro’s take off in this one (maybe set some sort of 3-pointers made record).
United States Schedule: Finland (August 30th); New Zealand (September 2nd); Ukraine (September 4th)
Australia v Slovenia (August 30th): Welcome to the big show Dante Exum. All the hype that has surrounded this kid leads me to be thrilled for this game. Simply because of who Slovenia has playing point: Goran Dragić. Think about this, nobody has really seen Exum preform against high quality opposition, and with Dragić having a breakout year in Phoenix last season he is the perfect first test for the young Australian. Even if Exum flops that doesn’t mean he will be a superstar, but it’ll finally be nice to watch some live game action of this kid.
Lithuania v Angola (August 31st): This tournament is a blessing for young talent. Lithuanian big Jonas Valanciunas is attempting to make even larger strides in his game after being a part of the Toronto Raptors team that finished third in the East last season. Look for a big game out of him in the first weekend. For Angola, the young prospect is a junior for Larry Brown down at SMU, Yanick Moreira. Keep an eye on Moreira to make a name for himself before entering what will be his best season in Dallas.
Knockout Rounds **All are potential match-ups
Round of Sixteen
France v Croatia (September 6th): This could happen so long as one of these teams finishes second and the other finishes third. Saric v Diaw will be a great matchup to watch as Saric’s game causes the floor to spread, but as we saw in this past NBA Finals, Diaw combats that effectively.
Spain v Argentina (September 6th): Spain could very well play anyone from the four-some of Argentina-Puerto Rico-Greece-Croatia, but I’m not convinced this Argentinian team can preform and produce the way we have come to expect. I do think this could be a big wake-up call for them and if the Scola can find the scoring touch he had in 2010 maybe Argentina wins group B, or maybe they get flattened by the Gasol brothers after barely squeaking by Group B. Also this matchup could even be a potential Quarter-Final or even Semi-Final matchup depending on where these two teams end up in their groups and how far they are capable of going in the tournament.
Australia v Turkey (September 10th): I have high hopes for Dante Exum to say the least. Sadly the fat lady will be singing on this night and the Australians will be headed back under, but not without making a small run in this tournament and Exum making it known that he will be a force to be reckoned with for years to come.
United States v Australia (September 11th): Yes I just finished the last sentence talking about how Australia is going to lose, but that doesn’t mean I won’t be rooting for the Australians to get this far. But seriously if they do manage to make it to the Semi-Finals there will not be much more (maybe a Bronze medal but Brazil is my pick for that). Look for Coach K to send a smaller lineup and utilize the shooting touch of some of the NBA’s best guards.
Spain v Brazil (September 12th): You’ve got to beat the best to win it all. And yes Brazil may very well lose to Spain in the group stage match, and they’ll more than likely come up short in this rematch. Do not expect a similar collapse that the Spanish soccer team saw in Brazil, the host nation will be playing in Madrid and not even this pesky Brazilian team will get under their skin.
United States v Spain (September 14th): The final will be a rematch of the last two Olympic Gold Medal games. Just don’t expect a different result or else you are going to have a bad time. As much as the Spanish team has improved over the years they have also aged; Pau Gasol is a shell of what he used to be. Although I’m predicting an interesting altercation between D-Rose and a Gasol brother will occur during the course of the game. Thus, the incident will be discussed on SportsCenter for the remainder of the summer.
Edited by Jeremy Losak.
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