Qualified: Fourth place at 2013 FIBA Americas, they return to the World Cup for the first time since 1978.
Qualified: ANGRY BIRDS. Ok not entirely but Rovio played a big role in helping the Finns secure the wild card for their first World Cup appearance.
Qualified: Second at 2013 FIBA Oceania championships. In Oceania, second is also known as ‘not Australia’ as it was once again a two-team tournament with both certain of their place in Spain.
Qualified: Finished 6th at EuroBasket 2013 with borscht-loving Pooh Jeter at point guard. This is their first appearance at the World Cup.
Qualified: Gold medal winners at the 2012 summer Olympics. No Durant, no Love, no question the defending champions are still loaded.
Qualified: Another wildcard, albeit not with the colourful background of Finland securing the same status. Turkey hosted the last World Cup where they took the silver medal.
The venue: Bizkaia Arena, Bilbao
The largest multipurpose hall in Spain, the arena can hold up to 26,000 people but that capacity is reduced to 15,414 for basketball.
Game that could disappoint: USA vs Turkey
It’s a re-match of the 2010 final but Turkey travel to Spain with far less promise than when they hosted last time out. This should, like many USA games, could be a mis-match but there is hope as the early kinks of Day 1 could be gone by the time these teams face off.
Game that won’t disappoint: Finland vs Ukraine
Pooh Jeter against another European team in a game that could really matter should be enough to sell this. Throw in the probability that Finland will come in somewhat in need of a win, assuming the drop their opener to the US, and this could be quite the contest.
Party spoiler: Dominican Republic
They are in a position to take advantage of an imbalanced group and arrive in Spain on the back of an impressive set of performances in their warm-up games. They will also avoid the USA until the penultimate group game, which should leave them well placed to make a charge.
Any other business
Just the small matter that this will be BallinEurope’s base for the first phase of the World Cup. BiE editor Emmet Ryan will be reporting from Bizkaia Arena throughout the five rounds of play and we’ll be posting video to give you the scene on the ground.
Fearless prediction time
The teams, in order, that will progress are…
3. Dominican Republic
The game between Turkey and Finland on 3 September could be a straight-up battle for fourth spot. Top spot was an obvious call, I could flip second and third but I’m sticking by these four to progress. Our final group preview, for Group D, will be up next Wednesday.