We’re going group by group with our preview of what you need to know to enjoy the 2014 FIBA World Cup of Basketball.
Qualified: One of four wild cards in the tournament, Brazil had a nightmare Tournament of the Americas…mainly because they knew they were getting a wild card so didn’t send a strong team to Venezuela.
Qualified: Silver medal winners at FIBA Africa Championships, this is Egypt’s sixth appearance at a World Championship or World Cup.
Qualified: Winners of EuroBasket 2013, France finally got over the Gasol shaped hump last autumn.
Qualified: Winners of the FIBA Asia Championships, Iran will be playing in their second World Cup after going 1-4 in group play in 2010.
Qualified: Serbia took the last automatic qualification place at EuroBasket with a 7th place finish, Serbia finished fourth at the 2010 tournament.
Qualified: As hosts Spain qualified automatically but they also got the third spot at EuroBasket 2013.
The venue: Palacio Municipal de Deportes de Granada
With a capacity of 7,358, the Palacio was home to CB Granada before they went bust. The arena has previous major tournament experience, having ho
Game that could disappoint: France vs Spain
It’s a re-match of last year’s epic Eurobasket semi-final and this time it’s on Spain’s home turf. We should really be worked up for this right? Well there’s no Tony Parker and by and large this French team is a heavily diluted version of the one that went all the way in Slovenia. France have the talent to contend for a medal but this game could end up being a giant dud.
Game that won’t disappoint: Brazil vs France
Yup, Les Bleus again but this time it’s got pretty seismic implications. Second place in the group means avoid Spain in the knockout stages until the semi-final round. That massively improves the medal chances of the winner of this game and Brazil want a medal badly. They are loaded and have their eyes on Rio. They want to come out of here with a deep run. This game could be an absolute war. Fireworks ahoy.
Party spoiler: Serbia
Our Serbian readers may not be pleased that, on paper, I have them fourth in this group but in practice I rate them much higher. We all like a nice wager on basketball matches from time to time and the Serbs should provide excellent value against the spread. Frankly. I expect them to pull out a straight up W against one of Brazil or France. That should be enough for them to get third spot in the group and drastically improve their medal chances.
Any other business
Sadly, there’s not a whole lot of wacky nonsense to report in this group. The blame lies squarely with Spain and Brazil, both of whom are taking this awfully seriously. Spain, in case you’ve been under a rock, are trying to make one last big push with their golden generation and it’s on their home soil to boot, while Brazil are about as eager as can be with the Olympics on their own turf in 2016. Fingers crossed Iran or Egypt can pull off some sort of an upset but don’t be too confident.
Fearless prediction time
The qualifiers, in order, will be:
Sorry Iran and Egypt, your stay will be short. We’ll preview Group B next Wednesday.