Biggest Threats to Team USA in the FIBA World Cup
With the withdrawal of a bevy of superstars from Team USA, the tournament favorites are now looking as vulnerable as ever as we approach the FIBA Basketball World Cup. While it is true that there is still so much talent remaining in the Team USA roster, the same can be said for the rest of the contenders in the World Cup. In fact, the consensus best player in the tournament might not even be in Team USA’s roster. Here is the list of teams that most people look at to give the United States team a run for the gold:
Most pundits believe that the Serbia will be the team that will likely face the USA in the gold medal match. As a matter of fact, some even believe that they are more favored to win the whole thing than the USA which, looking at their roster and experience, wouldn’t be much of a surprise. Even with injuries-issues lingering for their star point guard Milos Teodosic, Serbia still has a lot of high-caliber players in their lineup that can compete with any other team in the tournament. Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic will be their undoubted leader as he continues to build on his spectacular NBA season. Sacramento Kings shooting guard Bogdan Bogdanovic will also help in carrying the scoring load for them as he continues to play stellar in their friendly matches. Other notable veterans with NBA experience include Nemanja Bjelica, Boban Marjanovic and Miroslav Raduljica. It is not only their talent that makes them such a dangerous team, but also their style of play and continuity. Long-time Serbian national team coach Aleksandar "Saša" Đorđević has them playing a fun style of basketball with ball movement and shooting as the emphasis.
With one of the most basketball-crazy nations getting behind them, Team Lithuania have always had great success when it comes to international basketball competition and this 2019 World Cup would not be any different. Having legitimate NBA talents in Domantas Sabonis and Jonas Valanciunas leading the way will surely help their cause in having at least a podium finish. However, don’t be surprised if this team goes all the way and brings home the gold. Veterans of international competition like Mantas Kalnieti, Mindaugas Kuzminskas and Jonas Maciulis are still very much serviceable, not to mention the many shooters they have to surround them.
With Giannis Antetokounmpo in their roster, the Greeks look like the dark horses of the tournament. The 2019 NBA MVP will be backed up by current and former NBA players like Thanasis Antetokounmpo, Nick Calathes, Kostas Papanikolaou, Georgios Papagiannis. Also, they have Greek mainstays Ioannis Bourousis, Geogios Printezis and Vangelis Mantzaris. What sets them apart from other teams is their size and athleticism at multiple positions.
Their stars might be aging but Spain is still a powerhouse when it comes to international basketball competition. Their current version would have Marc Gasol, Sergio Llull and Ricky Rubio as their main cogs. In addition, they still have Willy and Juancho Hernangomez, Victor Claver and Rudy Fernandez, all of whom have NBA experience. It is notable that they are missing the services of Spanish legend Pau Gasol but their deep roster is more than enough to make them legit contenders for the gold.
A friendly match win against no less than Team USA should be enough to convince anyone that the Boomers are contenders for the gold medal. Missing the services of Sixers star Ben Simmons shouldn’t be a problem for them as they have loads of talent at their disposal. Patty Mills and Joe Ingles will provide a lot of long-range firepower. Their interior will be protected by bruisers Andrew Bogut and Aron Baynes. Matthew Dellavedova will be a providing more physicality to an otherwise already physical Australia team.