Thirty-two teams will be competing in the largest ever FIBA Basketball World Cup in China, with the USA looking to secure their third consecutive title. Who will win the FIBA Basketball World Cup? Can anyone overcome the might of the USA? Read on to inform your FIBA Basketball World Cup predictions.
FIBA Basketball World Cup winner odds
FIBA Basketball World Cup tournament format
Over 16 days beginning on August 31, no fewer than 96 games will take place across eight cities around China.
32 teams are split into eight groups with the top two in each group making it through to the second round featuring 16 teams in four groups of four.
Once more the top two teams in each group go on to the quarter-finals, then the semi-finals before finishing their journey in the final on September 15.
With the extra incentive of qualification for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games also on offer after making it out of the Group stages, it should make for a highly competitive tournament.
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Who are the FIBA Basketball World Cup favourites?
Pinnacle’s FIBA Basketball World Cup winner odds imply the USA has an 89% chance of winning this year’s FIBA Basketball World Cup, making them overwhelming favourites due to their all-NBA roster as well as their tournament pedigree.
USA jointly holds the all-time record of five FIBA World Cup victories with the now-defunct Yugoslavia and will be looking to secure their third consecutive title when tip off arrives on August 31. What’s interesting in addition to this is that no team has ever won the Gold three times in a row.
Led by legendary coach Gregg Popovich, their roster is comprised solely of players in the NBA – the only team that can boast this at this year’s competition.
USA have such an abundance of talent, that even without the likes of Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Paul George and Lebron James, they still have the best team (on paper) by a considerable margin.
"Led predominately by NBA players Pau Gasol (2006 FIBA World Cup MVP) & Jose Calderon, Spain proved having the most NBA players in your roster isn’t enough to guarantee victory."
Of the 20 players selected for the USA, 18 have prior World Cup experience, with five of those players having previously won the FIBA World Cup Gold: Harrison Barnes, Anthony Davis, James Harden, Kevin Love and Kyle Lowry.
Can anyone overcome USA?
It’s easy to see why they are FIBA’s no.1-ranked team in the tournament and are the favourites to be World Champions for a record sixth time. However, it is by no means going to an easy competition for the Americans, as tournament pedigree doesn’t always guarantee victory.
In 2006, the USA boasted the likes of LeBron James, Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard and Chris Bosh on their roster, yet only managed to finish third that year, with Spain going onto claim the Gold.
Led predominately by NBA players Pau Gasol (2006 FIBA World Cup MVP) & Jose Calderon, Spain proved having the most NBA players in your roster isn’t enough to guarantee victory.
Similarly, in 2002, USA could only manage a disappointing sixth-placed finish on home soil with a full NBA roster featuring the likes of Paul Pierce and Reggie Miller. Yugoslavia triumphed over Argentina in Overtime to secure victory that year.
They will also have limited training time which could be detrimental to their chances, with coach Popovich admitting:
“Four days is not enough to do much of anything in life. What’s available and what’s necessary are two different things and we need to look at the process to be a team that plays like a team when we get to China.”
FIBA Basketball World Cup predictions: Outsiders to consider
Spain (15.37*) come into the tournament as second favourites despite the absence of their talisman and former FIBA World Cup-winning captain Pau Gasol, arguably one the greatest ever Spaniards to play the game of basketball.
His brother Marc however is available and will be brimming with confidence having just won the NBA Championship with the Toronto Raptors along with his teammate Serge Ibaka. Spain can also call on fellow NBA players Ricky Rubio (Phoenix Suns), Juan (Denver Nuggests) & Guillermo ‘Willy’ Hernangomez (Charlotte Hornets).
EuroLeague star and former FIBA World Cup winner Rudy Fernandez and his Real Madrid teammate Sergio Llull will also feature prominently for the Spanish making them a more than credible candidate to claim their second FIBA World Cup.
Also boasting impressive NBA and EuroLeague talent, Serbia (13.57*) are another team who could upset the favourites this year.
Denver Nuggets’ 2019 NBA MVP candidate Nikola Jokic leads the team along with Sacramento kings pair Bogdan Bogdanovic and Nemanja Bjelica as well as Dallas Mavericks centre Boban Marjanovic.
Ranked fourth in the FIBA World Rankings and following on from 2014’s Silver Medal, Serbia will be looking to take that final step and claim the Gold in China.
Despite a Bronze Medal finish in 2014 being their best ever FIBA World Cup outing, France (23.08*) have the potential to make it to the Gold Medal match for the first time.
With the likes of Rudy Gobert (Utah Jazz), Nicolas Batum (Charlotte Hornets), Evan Fournier (Orlando Magic) and Frank Ntilikina (New York Knicks), it’s easy to see why they are FIBA’s third-ranked team in the tournament.
Finishing top of their qualification group, Greece (30.85*),led by arguably the best player at the tournament Giannis Antetokounmpo, will be looking to emulate their 2006 side that made it to the Gold Medal match against eventual winners Spain.
Australia (28.57*) otherwise known as the ‘Boomers’ will be able to boast up to nine NBA stars, including Utah Jazz swingman, Joe Ingles & San Antonio Spurs Patty Mills who they will look to lean on to lead them to a first ever podium finish.
The Boomers will certainly be looking to improve on their last 16 exit in the 2014 World Cup but will face a tough battle to get out of the ‘group of death’ featuring Lithuania, Canada, and Senegal.
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