Hey, big shock USA is the betting favorite to win the FIBA World Cup, but they are not invincible. And we’re predicting Spain and Australia could be their big threats.
The FIBA World Cup, formerly the FIBA World Championship, being played in China has the United States as major favorite to win the international hoops tournament.
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Team USA have won the last two World Cups, in convincing fashion, but this year’s American team is different by far. Let’s check out some of the details on the competition before getting into team info.
The FIBA World Cup will take place from August 31 through September 15.
FIBA World Cup dates
- First Round (Group Phase): Aug. 31 – Sept. 5
- Group Phase: September 6 – 9
- Quarterfinals: September 10 – 11
- Semifinals: September 13
- Final: September 15
FIBA World Cup Groups
GROUP A: Cote d’Ivoire, Poland, Venezuela, China
GROUP B: Russia, Argentina, Korea, Nigeria
GROUP C: Spain, Iran, Puerto Rico, Tunisia
GROUP D: Angola, Philippines, Italy, Serbia
GROUP E: Turkey, Czech Republic, USA, Japan
GROUP F: Greece, New Zealand, Brazil, Montenegro
GROUP G: Dominican Republic, France, Germany, Jordan
GROUP H: Canada, Senegal, Lithuania, Australia
Structure and format of the Basketball World Cup
There are 32 teams competing in the 2019 FIBA World Cup and they are broken down into eight groups of four teams each. The top two teams from each of the groups will advance to the 2nd round while the bottom two teams from each group will be in the Classification Round and compete for 17th-32nd place.
The 2nd round, which is a new set of groups and teams cannot play the ones they faced in the first round of group play. Again, the top two teams advance to the quarter finals while the bottom two teams will then face off for 9th through 16th place. The quarter finals of the last eight teams will be a single-elimination tournament with the champion being crowned on September 15th in Beijing. In total there will be 92 games played in the competition.
Can anyone beat the USA at the World Cup?
Team USA is the team to beat in the 2019 Basketball World Cup and they are led by legendary coach Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs. However, as the two-time defending champion no team has ever won the World Cup three straight times and Team USA is not a bevy of stars like it has been in the past.
The 2014 World Cup winning team featured stars such as Klay Thompson, Steph Curry, James Harden, Kyrie Irving, and Anthony Davis, who were all NBA All Stars this season. This time around the big names on the squad are Kemba Walker and Kris Middleton and while both made the All Star team last season, they are not considered superstars. A case could be made for Walker being a superstar, but of the other players on the roster for the World Cup Brook Lopez is the only other one that has made the All Star team and that was back in 2013.
Heading into the World Cup James Harden, Bradley Beal, Anthony Davis, Eric Gordon, Kevin Love, Damian Lillard, Kyrie Irving, CJ McCollum, and Tobias Harris all dropped out of consideration for the team that really lacks star power. Does that open the door for the other teams?
The U.S. is still the major betting favorite in the tournament and in one wager you can bet on the USA to win at $1.44 while taking any other team in the field to win at $2.85.
The American team is still pretty loaded, but in preparation for the tournament they had their 78-game international competition win streak snapped, losing to Australia 98-94. That marked their first major international tournament or exhibition loss since the 2006 world championship semi finals.
Serbia is the only other team that has pretty good betting odds at $4.25, after America at $1.47, with Greece ($15.00), Spain ($15.00), France ($28.00), and Australia ($33.50) rounding out the major chances.
Group stage a breeze
Not only does Team USA have the best betting odds to win the FIBA World Cup, but they were drawn into one of the weakest groups. Their biggest game in Group E may be facing Turkey, who are at $190.00 to win the World Cup. The Czech Republic are at $501.00 to win in at all and Japan is a major long shot to win it all at $1251.00 even though they do feature Rui Hachimura, who made history in the last NBA draft being the first Japanese player to be taken in the first round where he went #9 to the Washington Wizards.
Can the Serbs Get it Done?
Oddsmakers have Serbia as the team with the 2nd best betting odds to win the FIBA World Cup and they finished 2nd to the USA in the 2014 World Cup as well as at the 2016 Olympics. The team has no lack of solid NBA talent with 2019 All Star Nikola Jokic (20.1 ppg, 10.8 rpg and 7.3 assists per game) from Denver, Bogdan Bogdanovic and Nemanja Bjelica from Sacramento and Boban Marjanovich, Milos Teodosic and Miroslav Raduljica from Dallas.
The Serbs are seen as the team that can give the Yanks their biggest test and Serbian head coach Sash Djordjevic stated about the U.S, “Let’s let them play their basketball and we will play ours and if we meet, may God help them.” While the Serbs have the 2nd best odds to win the World Cup they are FIBA’s 4th ranked team in the world behind USA, Spain, and France.
Is there a Group of Death?
If there is a Group of Death in the World Cup, it has to be Group H.
In Group H two teams will make it out and all have a legit chance with the four teams of Canada, Senegal, Lithuania, and Australia. Canada is missing some talent, but they have a solid core with NBA talent such as Cory Joseph, Kelly Olynyk, Khem Birch and their head coach is Nick Nurse, who guided the Toronto Raptors to the last NBA title.
Lithuania has one of the better front court tandems in the tournament in Domantas Sabonis and Jonas Valanciunas and Senegal went 10-2 in the African qualification process and are led by big man Gorgui Dieng, who plays for the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Australia has the best odds to win the group and they not only beat the Americans preceding the World Cup but have a squad with a slew of NBA talent with the likes of Joe Ingles, Matthew Dellavedova, Andrew Bogut, Patty Mills and Aron Baynes. They were however rocked by the withdrawal of Jonah Bolden prior to the tournament, citing personal reasons, but his position on the roster seemed to be the real reason. They will also be without superstar Ben Simmons.
In Group H the oddsmakers have Australia, Canada, and Lithuania evenly pegged, while Senegal being the team with the lone long shot odds to make it out. Of the teams with the top eight betting odds to win the World Cup three of them are in Group H.
Greece has the Reigning MVP
Greece has decent odds to win the World Cup and their best player is much more than decent in the Greek Freak in Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is the reigning NBA MVP. His brothers Thanasis and Kostas, who signed with the L.A. Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks respectively. The Greeks have a little history on their side, as they were the last team to beat Team USA at a FIBA World Cup, in 2006.
Can Gasol Help Do it Again for Spain?
Marc Gasol is the big gun for Spain in the World Cup, and he was a key piece for the Toronto Raptors that won the last NBA title. Spain is the #2 ranked team in the world, according to the FIBA rankings, and they won the World Cup in 2006 when the Americans bowed out in the semi finals.
Pau Gasol is no longer with the national club, but the team is still a good one up and down with the likes of Phoenix Suns PG Ricky Rubio, Rudy Fernandez, and the Hernangomez bothers – Willy and Juancho, who play for the Charlotte Hornets and Denver Nuggets respectively.
Spain may be a good pick, as Gasol leads a strong front court and Rubio and Fernandez give the squad a lot of experience in the backcourt.
Can defense win it for France?
France is at $28.00 to win the World Cup and they are the 3rd ranked team in the world according to the FIBA rankings. The best player on their team is Rudy Gobert from the Utah Jazz and the 7’2” big man is the reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year.
The team also has Nikolas Batum from the Charlotte Hornets and Evan Fournier, who are both scorers that can light it up. Gobert is the key for France making it far in the tournament.
The Boomers have Confidence
Australia beat Team USA, as mentioned before, and they have a slew of NBA talent, as mentioned before as well, but coming out of the Group of Death will be far from easy. Still, they have a legit squad in the back and front court and beating the Yanks in a recent tune-up will have the team full of confidence.
The Aussies best finish in the World Cup was a 5th place twice (1982 and 1994) and their best finish in the last four World Cup tournaments was a 10th place finish back in 2010. They have the sixth best betting odds to win the 2019 FIBA World Cup and anything less than a quarter finals berth, at least, would likely be a disappointment for the team.
Lack of Dark Horses
With team USA being the major betting favorite to win the 2019 World Cup there are not really any dark horses. Well, that may not be true, as Greece, Spain, France, and Australia may be just that, while Serbia may be a bit of one as well, but their odds are not that high to win the whole competition.
FIBA Basketball World Cup outright odds
Puerto Rico $410.00
New Zealand $410.00
Czech Republic $510.00
Dominican Republic $760.00
South Korea $1251.00
Ivory Coast $1501.00
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