Latest News, NBA / Aug 26, 2010 / 11:45 am

FIBA World Championship Preview: 10 Teams To Watch

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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UNITED STATES
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.

TURKEY
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.

ARGENTINA
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.

CHINA
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.

FRANCE
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.

BRAZIL
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.

PUERTO RICO
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.

SPAIN
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.

GREECE
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.

SERBIA
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.

THE ENTIRE FIELD

Group A
Angola
Argentina
Australia
Germany
Jordan
Serbia

Group B
Brazil
Croatia
Iran
Slovenia
Tunisia
USA

Group C
China
Greece
Ivory Coast
Puerto Rico
Russia
Turkey

Group D
Canada
France
Lebanon
Lithuania
New Zealand
Spain

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  • control

    I hope Turkey finishes last, just because of Hedo. Feel sorry for France, if a Fat Boris Diaw is your best player (without Steve Nash on his team), that’s a rough look.

  • Shiptar

    u think these are top 10 teams competing in Turkey? Or is there some other reason why are these teams to watch?
    Cause Lithuania, Slovenia and Croatia are much better teams than China, Puerto Rico and even France…

    Fact that Yi, Batum and Arroyo are in the NBA means shit.. You guys don’t respect players in euroleague at all, and than you are surprised why guys like Navarro kill USA teams…

  • http://deleted dagwaller

    On which channel can these World Championships be seen?

  • JD

    Ersan Ilyasova is a Turk??? I thought he was russian

  • control

    I think Ersan was from Israel…didn’t he serve on the MOSAD or something? I remember hearing stories of him killing guys with his bare hands, and basically being one of those “don’t mess w/ the zohan” type of guys.

  • kevin

    Kind of surprised you left Slovenia off the list. Dragic, Udrih, Nachbar, Vujacic, Lorbek, Slokar, Nesterovic, Brezec, and Lakovic, etc.. Some of those names won’t be playing but they’re a damn good team regardless and they play well together.

  • Jules

    No love for Lithuania? ooof

    I bet they beat out France for the second spot in group D.

  • Soopa

    What about Russia? They won the EC a few years back with AK and american/russian JR Holden…

  • http://myspace.com/40sand9s Loc

    Gyeah,
    i’m excited for this!!!!

    GOod article Dime,
    but no Canada love!!! Come onnnnnnnn

  • quest???

    Austin, I’m going to have to disagree with your assessment on team Puerto Rico. Our rising star is not JJ Barea, it is a new comer named Nathan Peavy. Peavy can bang inside but can also shoot the three. Also, we have Angel D Vassallo, who is a wrecking ball. Puerto Rico has a very balanced team that can contend for a medal. Their biggest weakness is the coach.

  • matt

    I think it was splitter and to a muuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuch lesser extent carl english(go canada) with caja laboral won the championship this year, not FC barcelona.

    No love for Canada

    Best player – Matt Bonner
    Rising Star – Matt Bonner
    X factor – Matt Bonner citizenship application

    hahah

  • http://uoregon.edu sans

    When your yelling out “good red Rocket, eh!” you better have your flopping head laughing at south park reruns….

    who did Spain pay off for their cakewalk…Canada, France, NZealand….

  • dat

    You definitely forgot Germany they beat PUERTO RICO twice last week by 20 points each game.

    Best Player: team, as Kaman and Dirk are not playing
    Rising Stars: Robin Benzing, Tim Ohlbrecht, Tibor Pleis, Elias Harris, Luca Staiger
    X-Factor: Jan Jagla, Heiko Schaffartzik

  • Darko

    bad judgment of team serbia. their best player is 22 years old Milos Teodosic, this year MVP of Euroleague. Tepic is solid,but only third point guard on team. Tripkovic isn’t in the team. He had a bad season in Joventut and is injured. Teo is by far the best player not playing/played in NBA and rising star is fundemntal undersize PF Macvan. But tnx anyway for mentioning Serbia.

    p.s. Krstic got a ban of three games and Teo got two.

  • K Dizzle

    Renaldo Balkman ain’t nobody’s x-factor.

    I like Larry Ayuso as the P.R. x-factor. If he hittin that 3 off kickouts from Arroyo and Barea,it’s a wrap. And Puerto Rico’s big guys play mean. Good mix.

  • Fertsy

    What no love for Australia… even without Bogut they got the All-Europe Centre in Aleks Maric, Patty Mills running the point and a slew of big men experienced in the European league… plus the fact we are Aussie n don’t mind a bit of a blue.

  • Da_Griff

    Speaking of the aussies, they just spanked argentina 3-0 in some warm up matches, and have gone 9-1 in thier last 10, making a meal of Brazil and France just this week.

    David Andersen also plays for the aussies, and you watch Mr Jingles play. He’s surprisingly good.

  • Shiptar

    @K Dizzle: Ayuso isn’t playing for PR, he got kicked of the team.

  • Darko

    @Shiptar

    your nick sucks! :D

  • Shiptar

    Yeah, like being named the same as the biggest draft bust of all time doesn’t :D

  • http://crossover-online.de chris

    Germany is of course no favorit for the titel, but the guys beat Puerto Rico twice last week by 20+ and also Turkey.

  • K Dizzle

    lol @ post 20
    good comeback

  • Jason

    Uh, guys. I don’t think he has the same name, I think it’s the same guy. Is that you Darko?

  • Jason

    Shiptar: A dirty, smelly, tooth missing, ugly, unemployed Albanian who is a virus of a human being which lives in other peoples countries in europe and feeds off them like a parasite.

    Oh man, this is what it says on Urban dictionary, not good, lmao. Neither name wins.