The 2019 FIBA World Cup doesn’t tipoff until August 31 in China, and Team USA’s roster is still a ways away from being set, but the team coached by Gregg Popovich officially knows its first three opponents.
Team USA has been placed in Group E, where they will face the Czech Republic, Turkey, and then Japan in the group stage. The championship game will take place in Beijing on Sept. 15th. Team USA is the top ranked team in the tournament, and are going after their third straight FIBA World Cup, which would be unprecedented. Spain, who won the last FIBA World Cup before Team USA went on its run, comes in ranked no. 2, followed by France at no. 3.
Popovich takes over for Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, who presided over Team USA’s past two championships. Team USA knocked off Serbia in the 2014 finals to secure their fifth FIBA World Cup.
“We’ll face three well-coached teams and a variety of playing styles,” Popovich told The Associated Press. “Selecting and preparing the USA team in a short amount of time will be a challenge and repeating as gold medalists for a third straight FIBA World Cup is something everyone associated with the USA team will embrace.”
Pop will pick from a pool of 15 NBA players to make up his FIBA roster, and Houston Rockets star James Harden has already expressed his desire to join the team. Winning the 2019 FIBA World Cup will also earn that nation an automatic berth into the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.