FIBA World Championship Preview: 10 Teams To Watch

By: 08.26.10

Stephen Curry, Yannick Bokolo (USA Basketball, Nike)

For the basketball-starved among us tired of reading free agency and trade rumors, this summer’s biggest on-court hoops event is finally ready to tip-off. The FIBA World Championship (Aug. 28-Sept. 12) brings 24 international teams together for two weeks in Turkey to fight for gold medals, global bragging rights, and an automatic spot in the 2012 Olympics in London.

In Dime #58 we previewed the World Championship with 10 teams to watch, but since our press time, injuries and roster tweaks have given the field a different look. Here is the updated WC primer:

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Best Player: Kevin Durant
Rising Star: Derrick Rose
X-Factor: Andre Iguodala

As usual, Team USA has the most talented roster top-to-bottom, and will rely on its speed and pressure defense to overwhelm less athletic opponents. But this is a completely different squad than the group that won gold at the ’08 Olympics. Durant will lead the way, but he, like many of his teammates, doesn’t have much experience at big-time international events. It’s been well chronicled that Team USA’s crop of big men is lacking depth (Lamar Odom, Tyson Chandler, Kevin Love), but a bigger problem may be inconsistent shooting and limiting turnovers.

Best Player: Hedo Turkoglu
Rising Star: Ersan Ilyasova
X-Factor: Semih Erden

The host country is currently ranked 18th in the world, but with the home crowd behind them and some legit talent on the roster, don’t be surprised if Turkey pulls off some upsets and grabs a medal. Turkoglu should be in a good mood after his wish was granted and the Toronto Raptors traded him to Phoenix in the offseason.

Best Player: Luis Scola
Rising Star: Luis Cequeira
X-Factor: Carlos Delfino

Although Argentina is ranked No. 1 in the world by FIBA, it looks like their heyday being led by Manu Ginobili and Andres Nocioni is over. But the future beyond 2010 looks bright. Juan Fernandez, who stars at Temple University, is just turned 20 years old and should be a national-team staple in future tournaments, while Patricio Garino is a 17-year-old sensation who is seen as a superstar in the making. Both trained with the senior national team this summer, but won’t be making the trip to Turkey.

Best Player: Yi Jianlian
Rising Star: Li Xiaoxu
X-Factor: Sun Yue

With Yao Ming out of action, it’s up to skilled yet unproven Yi to carry the squad. Backcourt play will be crucial for the Chinese, as well as a big showing from 20-year-old Li Xiaoxu, who has already been playing pro ball for five years.

Best Player: Boris Diaw
Rising Star: Nic Batum
X-Factor: Yannick Bokolo

Despite not having Tony Parker, France is an athletic group who can get out and run. Bokolo has been compared to Leandro Barbosa, a scoring guard who excels in a fast-paced system. France has a history of underachieving in major FIBA tournaments, though, finishing fifth in last year’s European Championship, 8th in the ’07 Euro tourney, and not qualifying for the last two Olympics. Diaw is a skilled forward who can be a tough cover, but he again appears to be out of shape this summer.

Best Player: Leandro Barbosa
Rising Star: Tiago Splitter
X-Factor: Anderson Varejao

Barbosa leads the way with his speed and scorer’s mentality. Brazil had a nice crew of rugged big men in Varejao, Nene and incoming Spurs rookie Tiago Splitter, but Nene recently pulled out of the WC with leg injuries.

Best Player: Carlos Arroyo
Rising Star: J.J. Barea
X-Factor: Renaldo Balkman

Team PR is solid in the backcourt, but aside from NBA veteran Balkman, pretty weak up front. They can field a rotation seven deep of guys with NBA credentials: Arroyo, Barea, Balkman, Daniel Santiago, Ricky Sanchez, P.J. Ramos and Guillermo Diaz.

Best Player: Marc Gasol
Rising Star: Ricky Rubio
X-Factor: Juan Carlos Navarro

Even without Pau Gasol in the lineup, Spain could make a gold-medal run in Turkey. Marc Gasol is coming off an NBA season where he put up 14.6 points and 9.3 rebounds, and Rubio guided FC Barcelona to a Euroleague championship.

Best Player: Vassilis Spanoulis
Rising Star: Nick Calathes
X-Factor: Sofoklis Schortsanitis

They don’t have any current NBA players, but United States fans know better than anybody not to sleep on Team Greece. They upset the U.S. and won silver at the last World Championship, then won bronze at last year’s European Championship. Schortsanitis, a.k.a. “Baby Shaq,” can be a beast in the paint if he’s in shape and motivated. Also watch out for big man Kostas Tsartsaris, who dropped 24 points on the U.S. in Wednesday’s exhibition game.

Best Player: Nenad Krstic
Rising Star: Milenko Tepic
X-Factor: Uros Tripkovic

The last time Serbia played at the Worlds (2002), they won the whole thing, and they won silver at last year’s European Championship. Currently ranked 5th in the world by FIBA, they have to be considered a medal threat. But that depends on whether Krstic is available. He’s still awaiting his official punishment from FIBA after his fist- and chair-throwing antics during last week’s Serbia/Greece brawl.


Group A

Group B

Group C
Ivory Coast
Puerto Rico

Group D
New Zealand

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