There is one team — or, more specifically, one player — who has basketball fans ready to tune in to Group F at the 2023 FIBA World Cup. That would be the Slovenians, which are led by Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic. In addition to his exploits as one of the best basketball players in the world, Doncic has become revered for his ability to find an extra gear when he throws on a Slovenia uniform and get them to a point where they’re punching above their weight.
That’s bad news for the remainder of Group F, which features three other teams that are looking to knock them from their perch — entering the tournament, no team the Slovenians are tied with Serbia and the United States for the best odds to win their group. Everything else appears to be a battle for second place between Georgia, Venezuela, and Cape Verde, but the great thing about international tournaments like this is that one bad day at the office can change everything. If any of these teams can get a little lucky, perhaps they can beat Slovenia and position themselves as the potential group winners.
Here are the full odds to win the group, via DraftKings.
Cape Verde +5000
Here, we’re going to go through Group F and let you know the players to watch, along with the schedule and the game you’ll want to check out.
Players to Watch
Walter Tavares (Cape Verde): NBA fans might remember Tavares from his time with the Atlanta Hawks and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Since leaving the U.S., Tavares has been a standout for Real Madrid, as he’s accomplished just about everything he can in European basketball. The reigning EuroLeague Final Four MVP, Tavares very well might be the second-best player in this group, and will be the player Cape Verde turns to as it makes its World Cup debut.
Sandro Mamukelashvili (Georgia): A former second-round pick by the Milwaukee Bucks, Mamukelashvili joined the Spurs after getting waived last March and played the best ball of his professional career. In 19 games with seven starts, the former Seton Hall standout averaged 10.8 points and 6.8 rebounds a night, and was able to parlay that into a new, 1-year deal with San Antonio. Now, he’ll look to carry the momentum from his strong end to the season into the World Cup for a Georgia side that has a real chance of making it out of the group.
Luka Doncic (Slovenia): This one’s pretty easy, no? Doncic is the best player in the entire tournament, the single biggest reason Slovenia has a chance to medal, and looks to be in absolutely unbelievable shape as the tournament approaches. On the heels of a disappointing NBA season for the Mavericks, look for Doncic to have a monster tournament with the hopes of having it be a springboard to a big year in 2023-24.
Mike Tobey (Slovenia): The New York native and Virginia alumnus has carved out a nice career for himself in Europe, as he now plies his trade for Crvena zvezda after spending a few years in Spain. Tobey was excellent at the Tokyo Olympics as the Slovenians finished in fourth place, as he averaged 13.7 points and a tournament-best 10.5 rebounds per game while shooting 61.4 percent from the field. Doncic is obviously the team’s star, but don’t be surprised if Tobey is a gigantic piece of the puzzle.
Nestor Colmenares (Venezuela): The main reason Venezuela has a shot to get out of the group is its continuity, as a number of it players were on the roster at the 2019 World Cup when the team made it out of the group and finished 14th. Colmenares has been around the block for quite a while, as the 35-year-old forward has won gold with the team at the 2015 FIBA AmeriCup and at the 2014 and 2016 FIBA South American Championships. He averaged 10.3 points and 6.4 rebounds in World Cup qualifying.
Schedule/TV Info (all times EST)
Cape Verde vs. Georgia, 4:00 a.m., ESPN+
Slovenia vs. Venezuela, 7:30 a.m., ESPN+
Venezuela vs. Cape Verde, 4:00 a.m., ESPN+
Georgia vs. Slovenia, 7:30 a.m., ESPN+
Georgia vs. Venezuela, 4:00 a.m., ESPN+
Slovenia vs. Cape Verde, 7:30 a.m., ESPN+
Game to Watch
Georgia vs. Venezuela: It would be a real shock if anyone other than Slovenia ended up winning the group. As such, if we’re assuming that both Georgia and Venezuela will lose to Slovenia and beat Cape Verde, their final game in group play will determine which team is going to move on to the second round of the tournament. The runner-up to this, of course, is every Slovenia game, because the chance to watch Doncic play international ball is always a delight.