2014 is a big year for basketball, both in Australia but also across the world, with the feature event being the FIBA World Cup for men to be played in Spain from 30 August through to the final on 11 September 2014. 24 teams from across the globe will converge on Spain looking to raise the Naismith Trophy in Barcelona, the pinnacle of basketball in global hoops.
The USA returns as the defending World and Olympic Champions, while arch-rival and host nation Spain join them in the field as automatic qualifiers. The five FIBA federation champions looking to cause an upset include France (FIBA Europe), Mexico (FIBA Americas), Iran (FIBA Asia), Angola (FIBA Africa) and Australia (FIBA Oceania).
Brazil, Finland, Greece and Turkey were the last teams added to the field as wildcards to round out the field just last week. With the exception of Finland who impressed at EuroBasket 2013, the other three wildcard recipients are all ranked within the FIBA top 10 world rankings.
The World Cup gets underway with 24 teams across 4 groups, and this is how the draw panned out early this morning (4-Feb-14 Australian time): Group A: Grenada Group B: Seville Group C: Bilbao Group D: Cran Canaria 1. Spain (2) 1. Philippines (34) 1. Dominican Rep. (26) 1. Slovenia (13) 2. Serbia (11) 2. Senegal (41) 2. Turkey (7) 2. Lithuania (4) 3. France (8) 3. Puerto Rico (17) 3. USA (1) 3. Angola (15) 4. Brazil (10) 4. Argentina (3) 4. Finland (39) 4. Korea (31) 5. Egypt (46) 5. Greece (5) 5. New Zealand (19) 5. Mexico (24) 6. Iran (20) 6. Croatia (16) 6. Ukraine (45) 6. Australia (9) NOTE: Current FIBA world ranking in brackets
Group A is arguably the group of death, with reigning EuroBasket champions France, host nation and perennial contenders Spain, the might of Serbia, but also South American superpower Brazil – 4 teams within the top 11 in the world!
While no group could be considered easy, Australia has a relatively favourable draw and will head to the amazing Island of Cran Canaria for their Group D competition, which just so happens to be the home court of current Boomer Brad Newley! However 4th ranked Lithuania and rising European power Slovenia will be tough opponents and a good test of the Boomers early in the tournament. Should Australia be able to secure the services of a healthy core group that includes NBA players Andrew Bogut, Patty Mills, Aron Baynes and Matthew Dellavedova to complement their best European exports such as Newley, Joe Ingles, Aleks Maric and David Andersen, then the Boomers have a real chance to progress deep into the tournament and a long desired shot at a medal.
So which Group and draw is the toughest? Share your thoughts and post a comment!