The United States will try to defend their title at the 2014 FIBA World Cup, although the entire tournament is certain to be entertaining.
Spain, who won this event in 2006, believe they have what it takes to win another title on their home soil. Meanwhile, Argentina, Lithuania and others remain top contenders to at least bring home a medal, although they are all hoping it is gold.
Even with the talent on each roster, all of the top teams will face tough challenges along the way. Here is a look at the groups and schedule at the FIBA World Cup, along with top matchups to watch before the knockout stage.
Top Game: Spain vs. Brazil, Sept. 1
This group appears to be the toughest of the tournament, with plenty of top teams like Spain, France, Brazil and Serbia all capable of competing for medals.
ESPN's Mark Jones explains while Spain are an early favorite, France will be one of the top competitors as well:
Everybody talking about Spain making the FIBA World Cup Final. Excuse me but France are the EURO champs.Spain didn't make FIBA final in 2010— MarkJonesESPN (@MarkJonesESPN) August 21, 2014
However, the squad will be without Tony Parker, who is a tough player to replace. The French are very young and will not be able to compete with the veteran presence of a juggernaut like Spain.
On the other hand, one team that could cause problems for the group favorites is Brazil. This team has plenty of frontcourt talent between Anderson Varejao, Nene and Tiago Splitter, which would be a good matchup against Marc Gasol, Pau Gasol and Serge Ibaka.
If Brazil can defend the paint and rebound, they have a chance to pull off the upset against one of the top teams in the tournament.
Top Game: Argentina vs. Greece, Sept. 4
This is the only game of the group stage that will feature two of the top-five teams in the FIBA World Rankings.
Greece will be led by one of the more exciting young players in the NBA: Giannis Antetokounmpo. The "Greek Freak" is not only incredibly athletic, but he has the tools to play all over the court, as noted by Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders:
Jason Kidd has said that he wants to try Giannis Antetokounmpo at PG this year. That's right, a PG that is 6'11 with a 7'4 wingspan. #scary— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) July 22, 2014
He will try to help a team work its way to the top of the group, although Argentina will be in the way. This is another squad that is light on NBA talent (Luis Scola and Pablo Prigioni are the only players on NBA rosters), but it has plenty of international experience.
Argentina have earned a medal at each of the last three Olympics, including gold in 2004, and have had plenty of success at the FIBA World Cup.
This will be the last game for both teams in the group stage, and it could end up being incredibly important.
|New Zealand||United States|
Top Game: United States vs. Turkey, Aug. 31
Olympic gold medalists like LeBron James and Kobe Bryant are absent, Kevin Durant and Kevin Love withdrew from consideration and injuries to Paul George and others caused the team to look weaker than it has in the past.
USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo explained the squad had to be built to play with each other, via The Associated Press (h/t Boston Herald): "I also want to make it clear that this is not just about talent — each player is incredibly talented and each player offered us unique skills. In the end it was about assembling the best team, selecting guys who we felt would be able to best play the kind of style we envision this team playing."
Still, there is no question the United States have the most talent to choose from heading into international tournaments. SportsCenter provided a look at the final roster, which still includes plenty of NBA All-Stars:
USA Basketball World Cup Roster announced: Rose, Curry, Irving, Thompson, DeRozan, Harden, Faried, Cousins, Davis, Gay, Drummond, Plumlee.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) August 23, 2014
It only remains to be seen whether this group can play together for long enough to bring home another title.
One challenge could come early on against Turkey, the silver medalists from the 2010 event. Omer Asik leads a quality defensive team that knows how to work together on the floor. In order to beat them, the United States will have to avoid selfish behavior and instead keep passing to find the best shot available.
Top Game: Lithuania vs. Australia, Sept. 2
Australia have not had much success at the international level in the past, but a host of young players could help turn around their fortunes.
Recent draft picks Dante Exum and Cameron Bairstow join a national team that has sent a number of other players to the NBA in the past few years.
Bleacher Report's D.J. Foster believes the group could even challenge the United States if given a chance:
I could see Australia giving USA a good run. Dellavedova-Exum-Motum-Bairstow-Baynes is a real solid 5.— D.J. Foster (@fosterdj) August 7, 2014
Meanwhile, Lithuania might not have as many recognizable names, but the team has consistently been a top contender at both the Olympics and World Cup. They often utilize great outside shooting and are extremely difficult to guard offensively.
The winner of this game has a chance to make a deep run in this tournament and certainly challenge for a medal.
|Aug 30||Croatia vs. Philippines||6:30 a.m.||B|
|Aug 30||Ukraine vs. Dominican Republic||6:30 a.m.||C|
|Aug 30||Angola vs. South Korea||7:30 a.m.||D|
|Aug 30||Egypt vs. Serbia||9:30 a.m.||A|
|Aug 30||New Zealand vs. Turkey||10 a.m.||C|
|Aug 30||Austria vs. Slovenia||11:30 a.m.||D|
|Aug 30||Puerto Rico vs. Argentina||11:30 a.m.||B|
|Aug 30||France vs. Brazil||12 p.m.||A|
|Aug 30||Mexico vs. Lithuania||2 p.m.||D|
|Aug 30||Greece vs. Senegal||2 p.m.||B|
|Aug 30||United States vs. Finland||3:30 p.m.||C|
|Aug 30||Iran vs. Spain||4 p.m.||A|
|Aug 31||Dominican Republic vs. New Zealand||6:30 a.m.||C|
|Aug 31||South Korea vs. Australia||7:30 a.m.||D|
|Aug 31||Argentina vs. Croatia||7:30 a.m.||B|
|Aug 31||Serbia vs. France||9:30 a.m.||A|
|Aug 31||Finland vs. Ukraine||10 a.m.||C|
|Aug 31||Slovenia vs. Mexico||11:30 a.m.||D|
|Aug 31||Senegal vs. Puerto Rico||11:30 a.m.||B|
|Aug 31||Brazil vs. Iran||12 p.m.||A|
|Aug 31||Lithuania vs. Angola||2 p.m.||D|
|Aug 31||Philippines vs. Greece||2 p.m.||B|
|Aug 31||Turkey vs. United States||3:30 p.m.||C|
|Aug 31||Spain vs. Egypt||4 p.m.||A|
|Sept 1||Croatia vs. Senegal||6:30 a.m.||B|
|Sept 1||Iran vs. Serbia||9:30 a.m.||A|
|Sept 1||Argentina vs. Philippines||11:30 a.m.||B|
|Sept 1||France vs. Egypt||12 p.m.||A|
|Sept 1||Puerto Rico vs. Greece||2 p.m.||B|
|Sept 1||Brazil vs. Spain||4 p.m.||A|
|Sept 2||Angola vs. Mexico||7:30 a.m.||D|
|Sept 2||Ukraine vs. Turkey||9 a.m.||C|
|Sept 2||Australia vs. Lithuania||11:30 a.m.||D|
|Sept 2||United States vs. New Zealand||11:30 a.m.||C|
|Sept 2||South Korea vs. Slovenia||2 p.m.||D|
|Sept 2||Finland vs. Dominican Republic||3:30 p.m.||C|
|Sept 3||Mexico vs. Australia||7:30 a.m.||D|
|Sept 3||Philippines vs. Puerto Rico||7:30 a.m.||B|
|Sept 3||New Zealand vs. Ukraine||9 a.m.||C|
|Sept 3||Egypt vs. Iran||9:30 a.m.||A|
|Sept 3||Slovenia vs. Angola||11:30 a.m.||D|
|Sept 3||Senegal vs. Argentina||11:30 a.m.||B|
|Sept 3||Turkey vs. Finland||11:30 a.m.||C|
|Sept 3||Serbia vs. Brazil||12 p.m.||A|
|Sept 3||Lithuania vs. South Korea||2 p.m.||D|
|Sept 3||Greece vs. Croatia||2 p.m.||B|
|Sept 3||Dominican Republic vs. United States||3:30 p.m.||C|
|Sept 3||Spain vs. France||4 p.m.||A|
|Sept 4||Australia vs. Angola||7:30 a.m.||D|
|Sept 4||Senegal vs. Philippines||8 a.m.||B|
|Sept 4||Finland vs. New Zealand||9 a.m.||C|
|Sept 4||Brazil vs. Egypt||9:30 a.m.||A|
|Sept 4||South Korea vs. Mexico||11:30 a.m.||D|
|Sept 4||Ukraine vs. United States||11:30 a.m.||C|
|Sept 4||Iran vs. France||12 p.m.||A|
|Sept 4||Croatia vs. Puerto Rico||12 p.m.||B|
|Sept 4||Lithuania vs. Slovenia||3:30 p.m.||D|
|Sept 4||Turkey vs. Dominican Republic||3:30 p.m.||C|
|Sept 4||Serbia vs. Spain||4 p.m.||A|
|Sept 4||Argentina vs. Greece||4 p.m.||B|
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