Monday, 25 March, 2019

Star-studded USA start Basketball World Cup defence against Czechs

Tall Blacks head coach Paul Henare has welcomed New Zealand's tough draw at the 2019 FIBA World Cup SPORTTall Blacks head coach Paul Henare has welcomed New Zealand's tough draw at the 2019 FIBA World Cup
Sidney Guerrero | 17 March, 2019, 04:39

The Philippines was grouped with a formidable list of basketball teams in the coming 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup. We have friends that will experience a championship for the first time.

"I think you're gonna have to play, I think the mindset is that you're thinking that we have to be ready to play whoever comes through that door", general manager Rowan Barrett told The Athletic earlier this month.

New Zealand are ranked 38th in the world, Greece are eighth, Brazil 12th and Montenegro 28th. "So, it's pretty awesome to be a part of it".

On the other hand, Italy was the second placed team in Group J. It will most likely field Los Angeles Clipper Danilo Gallinari and San Antonio Spur Marco Bellineli.

The tournament format is cut throat, with the top two from each Group advancing to the round of 16 and a shot at the medals, while those finishing third and fourth will play in classification 17 to 32 matches. "It's not going to be easy".

Group C consists of Spain, Iran, Puerto Rico and Tunisia.

Shea Ili on the drive for the Tall Blacks
SuppliedShea Ili on the drive for the Tall Blacks

Lastly, Group F is made up of Dominican Republic, France, Germany and Jordan. The Chinese are paired with Venezuela, Poland and Ivory Coast.

Group H looks particularly competitive, lining up Canada, Senegal, Lithuania and Australia.

There is an added incentive for teams at this World Cup, with seven spots at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics up for grabs. Despite winning their qualifying group with a 10-2 record, seeds were decided with an eye towards past performance in big tournaments, rather than the qualification tournament itself.

"You might say we have been better in those situations, when no one expects us to do well, we love to be in the fight as an underdog". "When you start out the game, you hear your national anthem being played, you see everybody in the arena with their flags representing their country and color, it's just such a great honor to be a part of that".

The group phase lasts through September 5, and all three USA games in that round will be played in Shanghai.

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