FIBA World Cup 2014 Preview

Pistons Insider Jake Chapman has your FIBA World Cup Primer

This is actually the first FIBA World Cup ever. Sorta. From 1950 until 2010 this tournament was known as the FIBA World Championship, but FIBA decided to take a cue from its fubol hermanos, and alas, the FIBA World Cup was born. In the 16 previous editions of this tournament, the big winners were Yugoslavia with five gold medals, next up has been the United States with four gold medals, and the Soviet Union notched three wins back in the days when the Soviet Union was a thing. The United States is your defending champion, although 2010 Tournament MVP Kevin Durant is not on the American roster this year. We’re going to take a thumbnail look at each group and project those who will advance to the do-or-die tournament portion of The Cup. Remember, the first week (beginning Saturday, August 30th) will be round-robin group play, and the top 4 teams from each group will advance to a 16-team single elimination tournament beginning Saturday, September 6th. The final is Sunday, September 14th. We’ll keep you updated on the tourney and informed on how Andre Drummond and Team USA are faring right here on Or you could follow me on twitter @jakepistons. Or do both. Yeah, definitely both.

Group A : Brazil, Egypt, France, Iran, Serbia, Spain

This group is brutal. Spain’s frontline features Serge Ibaka and the Brothers Gasol. Goo! Not too many scrubs elsewhere either, with Jose Calderon, Ricky Rubio, Rudy Fernandez, Juan Carlos Navarro and Victor Claver all capable of a big night at any given time. Rubio has been on the Spanish National Team since he was six weeks old I believe, so you know he’s familiar with the system. Plus you always give a little extra nod to the host country, and I’m sure the Spaniards will come out in droves to support these guys, especially should we see a US/Spain final, as we all expect. Brazil, France and Serbia all pose legit threats to the Spanish though, and I fully expect these 4 teams to advance out of group play. France has the best chance to play spoiler to the Spanish, even without Tony Parker. They have young NBA-ers Nic Batum, Rudy Gobert and Evan Fournier – all Frenchmen with a ton of game.

Group B: Argentina, Croatia, Greece, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Senegal

Greece and Croatia are probably locks to advance, and I like Argentina and Puerto Rico to round out the top 4. We’re all very familiar with Luis Scola and the Argentinians, although they’ll have to make do without Manu Ginobili and their summer has been a disaster so far, with losses to Serbia and Puerto Rico and drama within the locker room. Argentina should right the ship, but look for the feisty Greeks, led by the Greek Freak Giannis Antetokounmpo and Nick Calathes to make some waves too. Words can’t describe how much I love the Greek Freak. Largely because I can’t pronounce those words. Also, Andray Blatche plays for The Philippines. Because Andray Blatche. Blatche and his “countrymen” will not make it to the tournament, and I’ll take JJ Barea, Carlos Arroyo and the Puerto Ricans over Senegal for the fourth spot.

Group C: Dominican Republic, Finland, New Zealand, Turkey, Ukraine, USA

Bit of a toss-up here, the USA will likely cruise through group play, and I have to think Turkey and Ukraine lock down the next 2 spots, but that fourth spot seems wide open. Even without Steven Adams I’ll go with New Zealand. They’re called the Tall Blacks for crying out loud, which coincidentally is how I order my coffee. The USA is clearly the class of this group, and frankly none of the other teams have much of a shot at medaling. But I think DR and Finland will be the bottom two.

Group D: Angola, Australia, Korea, Lithuania, Mexico, Slovenia

Austalia and Lithuania are the locks here. Even without Patty Mills, Dante Exum will be good enough to guide the Aussies on a run through group play. And Lithuania boasts a frontline of Jonas Valanciunas and Donatas Motiejunas. The names might be a mouth-full, but both are also a hand-full on the block. (I’ll be here all week.) Zoran and Goran Dragic should be able to steer the Slovenians into the tournament. Also, they’re brothers with rhyming names which needs to happen less often with names like Jake and Blake and more often with names like Zoran and Goran. And the fourth spot goes to Mexico mainly because of Gustavo Ayon, MVP of the FIBA Americas Tournament in 2013 and Centrobasket 2014.

All in all, I’d be shocked if we didn’t see a Spain/US final. The Americans looked outstanding Tuesday against the Slovenians. When they ratchet up their perimeter defense, turnovers and run-outs abound, and the US will be able to run a few of these teams, especially those in their group, right out da building. (Barkley.) Coach K likely kept Andre Drummond and Mason Plumlee both with an eye on the Spanish frontline. He has a big-man arsenal of Anthony Davis who looks like the league’s next Superstar, Demarcus Cousins who looks like the league’s next crazy person, Andre Drummond, who should be playing in front of said crazy person, Kenneth Faried who is the perfect complement to all the scorers on roster, and Mason Plumlee, who… went to Duke. Five bigs on a twelve-man roster seems a little goofy, until you look at that Spanish frontline. Plus, FIBA rules only allow for five fouls per game, so there will be plenty of times when Drummond and Plumlee are called in to see early action, likely because Boogie Cousins did something knuckle-headed. The US should win the whole enchilada (Spain!) – But knocking off the Spaniards en Espana will be muy dificil. (Otra vez!)

We’ll have your daily Drummond-watch and Team USA results right here on or follow me on Twitter @jakepistons. Or do both. Yeah, definitely both.