World Cup play starts this Saturday in China and while the US has a weaker roster than usual, it’s still one of the favorites.
The US is in Group E, along with the Czech Republic, Japan and Turkey.
Some teams you can probably write off now: the Ivory Coast, South Korea, Iran, Tunisia, Angola, Jordan, maybe Senegal.
We have no idea what to expect from Venezuela. The situation there is very dire and we don’t know if they can train properly or possibly even get proper nutrition. It’s that bad.
However, the Venezuelans did beat Turkey Sunday which was a significant win.
Why is Scottie Wilbekin on the Turkish National Team?
When you take those teams away, leaving Venezuela for now, you are left with China, Poland, Argentina, Russia, Nigeria, Puerto Rico, Spain, Italy, the Philippines, Serbia, Japan, Turkey, the Czech Republic, Brazil, Greece, Montenegro, New Zealand, the Dominican Republic, France, Germany, Australia, Canada, Lithuania and of course the US.
It’s hard to keep up with the international teams but based on what we know now, the teams we’d be really worried about are Serbia, Spain, France, Australia, Lithuania and maybe Puerto Rico, simply because the game is so deeply entrenched there.
The Serbian coach is so confident that he said this: “Let’s let [Team USA] play their basketball and we will play ours, and if we meet, may God help them.”
In terms of fun teams to watch, keep an eye on Japan. They were really good in the 2016 Olympics and add Rui Hachimura. This isn't a medal team but it’s a really fun, creative team with a serious competitive drive. We loved what they did in 2016.
The Philippines are probably not a major threat but that country loves the game like no other. Former NBA player Andre Blatche is a citizen there and one of the better big men in the field. We always pull for them simply because the people love basketball - this is no exaggeration - more than any other on the planet.
We’ll post more as we find more links.
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