Thursday, August 28, 2014

2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup Starts Saturday

The tournament has been rebranded and the next one won't be played until 2019 so it doesn't conflict with the FIFA World Cup soccer tournament, but the FIBA Basketball World Cup tips off Saturday and runs through September 14. .

Many basketball fans in the USA don't consider it as important as the Olympics, but for the rest of the planet and the 23 other nations playing in it, this FIBA Basketball World Cup is a BFD. 

And yeah, USA b-ball fans, you need to be paying attention, because the winner of this FIBA tournament and the women's FIBA one that gets started September 27 in Turkey gets an automatic bid to the 2016 Rio Olympic basketball tournament. 

So if our star spangled men's b-ballers want to be dribbling Molten basketballs on the Rio Olympic Arena courts in two years and avoid playing in the FIBA Tournament of the Americas to qualify for the Olympics, failure to win this tournament in Spain is not an option.

The 2014 (and 2016 Olympic) Team USA squad will once again be coached by Mike Krzyzewski, who has a 64-1 record in FIBA internatioanl play. 

And despite Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Russell Westbrook and Blake Griffin pulling out and Paul George's horrific injury during Team USA training camp that will sideline him for this tournament and the 2014-15 NBA season, you international peeps better not sleep on this squad we are sending to defend our FIBA men's title.. 

James Harden, Kenneth FariedIn addition to my Houston Rockets homie James Harden, the 2014 Team USA FIBA World Cup squad includes DeMarcus Cousins (Sacramento); Stephen Curry (Golden State); Anthony Davis (New Orleans); DeMar DeRozan (Toronto); Andre Drummond (Detroit); Kenneth Faried (Denver); Rudy Gay (Sacramento);  Kyrie Irving (Cleveland); Mason Plumlee (Brooklyn); Derrick Rose (Chicago) and Klay Thompson (Golden State).

This 2014 squad is also attempting to do something a USA men's squad has never done in the history of this tournament, and that's repeat as FIBA World Cup tourney champions. 

But there are several teams that want to make sure we don't end up playing in the championship game in Madrid, starting with the host Spaniards.   They are still smarting from the 2008 and 2012 Olympic final losses pinned on them by the USA ballers and being upset in the 2010 FIBA tournament knockout round by Serbia. The Gasol brothers, Serge Ibaka and company are determined to not let it happen on home soil.

The Lithuanians are always dangerous, along with the Brazilians, the Argentinians even without Manu Ginobili and Greece.  If you're laughing about Greece, ask Coach K or LeBron James about that.  They are the team in the 2006 FIBA world semis in Japan that handed Coach K his lone FIBA b-ball loss.

James HardenTeam USA is in Group C in Bilbao's Barakaldo Arena, and start FIBA Worlds play August 30 against Finland.  The next day they get a 2010 FIBA finals rematch against Turkey before they get a day off.  The USA ballers resume group play on September 2 against New Zealand, play the Dominican Republic on September 3 before completing pool play on September 4 against Ukraine.  

Pretty much a winnable group for Team USA while the Spaniards are slugging it out in the Group A 'Group of Death' in Granada with France, Serbia, Brazil, Egypt and Iran.  

Should be fun to see how this plays out over the next few weeks.

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