Yeah guys, I’m fully dedicated to this FIBA World Cup stuff. No one else is going to write about it, I may as well. Here’s the results after the first round.
Poland finishes in first place of Group A! With zero NBA talent on their roster, they bulldozed their way through. Their only close game came against China who finished with only one win and they won the other two by double digits. They were the only undefeated team in Group A, with Venezuela coming in second. China and win-less Ivory Coast have been eliminated. Poland and Venezuela will combine with the winners of Group B for the second round of group play.
Group B was full of surprises. Nigeria, led by Al-Farouq Aminu and Josh Okogie, boasted their best roster in decades and were very highly ranked coming into the tournament. They have been eliminated. Argentina, a global basketball giant, finished in first. They have been led by the age-less Luis Scola (points and rebound leader) and Facundo Campazzo (whose Argentina jersey I own). Scola became the second highest scorer in FIBA World Cup history in the first round. Russia was the surprise second place finisher. They played hard in their wins and only lost by 6 to Argentina. Korea went 0-3 and has been eliminated. The winners will join forces with Poland and Venezuela to form Group I in the second round. Because the results of the first round carry over, Argentina and Poland currently lead the group.
Spain has been one of the international basketball powerhouses for a decade. That has yet to change, as they finished at the top of Group C. They went undefeated and only won by less than ten points (eight) once. The tandem of Marc Gasol and Ricky Rubio leads the team in every category. Their NBA talent has been too much for an otherwise weak group. Puerto Rico beat Tunisia in a head-to-head matchup to advance to the second round. Puerto Rico has no NBA talent but they gave Spain a real challenge. Iran was eliminated after going 0-3. The winners will join the winners of Group D in the second round of group play.
Group D lived up to its projections. Serbia went undefeated and crushed every other team. Italy was their only real challenge and they beat them by fifteen. Nikola Jokic is the second best player in the tournament and Bogdan Bogdanovic has been lights out so far. In second place is Italy, who beat both of the non-Serbia teams by 30+ points. Marco Bellinelli has made some impossible shots and Danilo Gallinari is the perfect power forward for this tournament. Angola and the Philippines both go out with a whimper. Serbia and Italy will form an incredibly powerful Group J with Spain and Puerto Rico. Spain versus Italy and Spain versus Serbia should both be marquee games. Serbia and Spain are both atop of the standings to begin.
The United States got their first real scare of the tournament. They beat Turkey by just one in overtime and Turkey lost it more than the US won it, in all honesty. Turkey missed four free throws to ice the game. Regardless, the US is advancing atop of Group E and Turkey is heading home. The Czech Republic, who beat Turkey to steal their second place finish, has Tomas Satoransky (of whose game I am a huge fan of) as their only NBA player. Turkey bows out in gut-wrenching fashion and Japan went win-less. The winners will be combining with the top two of Group F.
Brazil will be advancing to the second round atop of Group F. Didn’t think I would be typing that, but here we are. Brazil beat out Greece by one to secure the spot. The Greek team should be a juggernaut in this group. Their coach, however, is simply not putting the ball in Giannis‘ hands on offense. It is infuriating and I am really concerned of their prospects in this tournament if that doesn’t change. They will be advancing to the next round but face an uphill battle to advance to the elimination rounds. Brazil has been beasting the competition with a collection of NBA fossils (Varejao and Barbosa) and went undefeated in Group F. They, along with the USA, are atop of the newly minted Group K. New Zealand and Montenegro did not impress in their play and are going home.
France advances undefeated after a close call with Germany, who has since been eliminated. Batum, Fournier, and Gobert form a scary trio in this tournament. If they get hot they could make a real run for it. In second place is the Dominican Republic, who beat Jordan and Germany by a combined six points to advance. They are likely the weakest team in the second round. Germany (despite real NBA talent) and Jordan are headed home. The winners will be joining the winners of Group H for the second round.
Australia is moving on undefeated in Group H. They have looked scary this tournament and even beat Team USA in an exhibition a week before the tournament. Patty Mills, Joe Ingles, and Aron Baynes could all be starters in the NBA and have been killing the competition (not to mention Bogut and Delly off the bench). In this tournament you want a big, bruising center who can finish inside and rebound. The Lithuanian team, second place in Group H, have one of the best in that category. Jonas Valanciunas is averaging 19 and 9 in this tournament and is showing no signs of slowing down. They only lost by five to Australia and could make moves in the second round. As of now, France and Australia sit atop of Group L in the second round. Canada (who, if it weren’t for drop outs, would have a top five roster in international play), and Senegal go home.