Qualified: Won the 2013 FIBA Africa Championship, their 11th time to claim that title and their seventh time making it to the World Cup.
Qualified: Won FIBA Oceania Championship. Their participation was secured merely by being in Oceania but we won’t make any barbs because at least they won it.
Qualified: Silver medal winners at EuroBasket 2013 and they come to Spain having impressed in warm-up games.
Qualified: The power didn’t really work at FIBA Americas 2013, that roughly bothered Mexico to the tune of…nothing. With MVP Gustavo Ayon leading the charge, Mexico claimed the title for the first time ever to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1974.
Qualified: The EuroBasket hosts took fifth place in front of their fans to book a third consecutive trip to the World Cup.
The venue: Gran Canaria Arena, Las Palmas
The home of CB Gran Canaria in Spain’s top flight and the newest stadium in the tournament, with the 9,865 capacity arena having opened its doors in March 2014.
Game that could disappoint: Lithuania vs Slovenia
Of the four groups, this one is likely to have the fewest bad games despite the presence of Korea, who scream of a blowout loss machine. I’m picking this one because it’s more than likely both teams will already be through at this stage with at least one certain of its final group ranking before opening tip.
Game that won’t disappoint: Australia vs Lithuania
It’s right at the mid-point of proceedings, it’s two teams with blends of exciting young players and experienced veterans, and it could be crucial in deciding top spot. This is a group rich in fun games, this one looks the most surefire winner.
Party spoiler: Mexico
It has to be right? They weren’t expected to bully teams in Venezuela last year and they did. In Spain, a whole bunch of you have them slotted into the fourth spot here. Admit it, you totally do. Give me a team with good organisation and a chip on its shoulder to score at least one surprise win in this group.
Any other business
A whole lot of people will be watching Dante Exum but it’s still unclear how much of a role he’s going to play for Australia. He made our list of most interesting young players at the tournament because, for all the talk, very few fans outside the true hardcore (which admittedly make up most of our readership and we love you) have seen him play against grown-ass men.
Fearless prediction time
The qualifiers for the second round, in order, will be:
Now hold on a second Slovenia fans, don’t throw things at me yet, remember I loved that song. I’m making this call on the highly plausible assumption that the teams from second through fourth end up with equal records and tie-breakers will decide the order.
Tomorrow we will do our big Fearless Predictions column, a tradition started by my predecessor Os Davis and one that generally leads to BiE getting a great deal wrong (I’ve certainly held up that end).