Sunday, the second day of the 2014 FIBA World Cup, presents another full schedule of games, with 12 on tap. It's also a critical day for teams that lost on the first day, though we won't know those results for a few hours.
Two teams facing an uphill climb in this tournament, Argentina and Croatia, can put themselves in a great position to get out of Group B and into the championship bracket with a good first weekend.
Neither squad is expected to make a huge dent in the outcome of the FIBA World Cup. Argentina is trying to replace the offensive production lost by not having Manu Ginobili, while Croatia finished 14th at the event four years ago.
Where: City Arena, Sevilla
When: Sunday, August 31
Start Time: 7:30 a.m. ET
Watch: NBA TV
Live Stream: ESPN3.com
Rosters can be found at FIBA.com
There is not much history to look at when evaluating Argentina and Croatia head-to-head. They have only met twice, the last time being a 77-53 victory for Argentina in August 2008.
If we are looking at the results from the preparation games, it suggests that these two teams match up very well. Argentina went 4-4 in eight exhibition games, averaging 77.8 points per game and allowing 79.5. Croatia was 2-3 with 76 points per game and allowing 78.6 points.
Croatia does have one of the best players in the tournament in Bojan Bogdanovic. At least he has played like one of the world's top players in international events, as noted by Steven Loung of SportsNet.ca:
During last year’s EuroBasket, Bogdanovic averaged 17.4 points per game and lead his team to a fourth-place finish in the tournament. The 25-year-old is a classic swingman and his scoring acumen and the way he uses his body to create space for himself have seen him draw comparisons to Paul Pierce.
The Croatian squad also has size all over the place. Bogdanovic is 6'7", Ante Tomic is a 7'1" center and five other players are at least 6'10". By comparison, Argentina has just one player 6'10" or taller (Marcos Delia).
It hasn't been a good summer for Argentina's basketball team, either. As Kevin Pelton of ESPN.com wrote (subscription required), the team is missing key stars, and the players who are around have issues with the country's governing basketball body:
Manu Ginobili isn't walking through that door; Carlos Delfino and Fabricio Oberto aren't either, and while Argentina still has NBA talent in Pablo Prigioni and Luis Scola, the team's summer campaign has been a disaster, starting with complaints from players about the Argentine Basketball Federation. Before the blowout loss to Spain, Argentina lost both games in Serbia to the hosts and Puerto Rico.
For a country that used to be one of the great basketball powers of the world, Argentina is clearly in a period of transition right now. The star power is gone, and this year's FIBA roster isn't brimming with elite talent.
Luis Scola is a solid contributor, but if he's the face of your club, there are real problems. Combine that with reports of corruption and massive debt involving the Argentine Basketball Federation, and suddenly you have a powderkeg situation that is waiting to explode.
Add everything up, Croatia is in a much better state on and off the basketball court. It should also result in a victory in this Group B matchup on Sunday.
Prediction: Argentina 70, Croatia 79
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