Now that USA’s scrimmage is done, we are just weeks away from the start of the FIBA World Cup 2019 in China. For those who are not aware of the start date, the FIBA World Cup is from August 31 through September 15. Only 32 teams qualified to this cup, we all know that the favorites to win gold is Team USA, but I wouldn’t commit 100% to the odds of this team winning it all. Here are the top five teams that can be a threat to Team USA taking it all.
Greece is one of the top teams to watch this FIBA because we will get to see Giannis Antetokounmpo play with his brothers Kostas and Thanasis. Just with the three Antetokounmpo’s, this team is set to have great length and speed to start the tournament. Their group is based on New Zealand, Montenegro, and Brazil. We expect to have Greece at the top of the list, but not by far. Montenegro has a rising star called Nikola Vucevic from the Orlando Magic that can make things difficult for Greece. That Brazil team always surprises come playing time, but they have the familiar faces we always see like Anderson Varejao, Leandro Barbosa, and Bruno Caboclo. Both teams have C+ rosters, but none of them are expected to surpass Greece.
France is an interesting team to watch this year also. They have defensive player of the year Rudy Gobert accompanied by Evan Fournier, Nando De Colo, Nicolas Batum, and others. Now, it’s a little unfair to put this team as a threat when all of their highlights don’t include their NBA players, but those key plays with the additions of these big names should make a great team to face a rookie Team USA. They face an easy group with their biggest threat being Germany with Dennis Schroeder, so they should make it to playoffs for sure.
Australia could have been the biggest threat to USA with Ben Simmons being from that nationality, but like other USA stars, he withdrew. Still they have good NBA players like Matthew Delladedova, Joe Ingles, Aaron Baynes, and more. From all of this threats, it’s fair to say that they are in the toughest group because they will face powerhouses like Lithuania and Canada. Now being the toughest group, it’s possible that Australia gets knocked down in the qualifying round, and that would make things easier for USA. Although Canada has players like Corey Joseph, Brandon Clarke, and Kelly Olynyk, I still think Australia will be better. And comparing with Lithuania, they have ballers like Domantas Sabonis and Jonas Valanciunas, but I see Australia as the better team.
There are some new faces, but mainly it’s the same team that goes against Team USA every cup. With NBA stars like Marc Gasol, Willy and Juacho Hernangomez, and Ricky Rubio, team Spain will look to make things hard for USA. Other than those players, some key players you might need to watch are Sergio Llull and former NBA player Rudy Fernandez. Having a poor Puerto Rico team, and other poor teams, Spain is set to qualify easily.
Even though they lost the participation of point guard Milos Teodosic, it’s fair to say that this team is the biggest threat to Team USA. Last time they faced each other it was a battle and Serbia gave a good game against a good USA team. Now with an inexperienced team, Serbia will look to take advantage. They count with players like Nikola Jokic, Bogdan Bogdanovic, and others. The toughest team in their group is Italy with Danilo Gallinari and Marco Belinelli, but still Serbia has the better chance of getting the first seed in their group. Serbia’s coach had some trash talk towards USA saying: “If USA does face us, they should prepare well and pray.” So it’s fair to say that if we get a mathcup between these teams, it will be a must watch.