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World Championship knockout rounds set, USA has a tough road ahead

Sep 2, 2010, 6:40 PM EDT

Thumbnail image for Kryzewski_USA.jpgThere are supposed to be rewards for winning your group-play bracket at the FIBA World Championships. And there are for the USA — it’s first round game is against Angola on Monday. Very winnable.

Then the sledding gets tough. It could have been worse. But tough.

Here’s the lineup. Saturday we get the two best games of the first round: first Serbia vs. Croatia, followed by the war that should be Spain vs. Greece. It would not shock to see the winner of that game in the gold medal game. The winners of those two games will go on to face each other in the round of 8 (look for the Spain/Greece winner to advance).

Sunday it is host and dancerless Turkey vs. France — Portland’s Nicolas Batum had a buzzer-beater three at the end of France’s game Thursday and if he hits it they (based on point differential) would have faced Russia in the first round, not undefeated Turkey. The other Sunday game is Slovenia vs. Australia, and the winners of those two games meet in the next round (look for Turkey out of this bracket).

Monday the USA gets Angola while Russia will take on (and likely defeat) New Zealand. Then it is USA/Russia on Thursday, with a Russian squad led by 6’11” Sasha Kaun and newly-signed Knick center Timofey Mozgov — two skilled big men. Against an undersized USA squad. This will be a first test.

Tuesday we see the other teams on the USA’s side of the bracket: Lithuania vs. China and Argentina vs. Brazil (that will be another entertaining game). Look for Argentina to advance out of this bracket, although with an off game Brazil or Lithuania could get them.

So your likely USA road to the gold medal: Angola, the tall Russian squad, Luis Scola and Argentina, then probably Spain in a repeat of the Barcelona gold medal game. But maybe Greece makes it all the way.

Either way, no easy road for the USA. Play like they did in the first half against Angola and they get no shiny metal objects to take home.

  1. Dave - Sep 3, 2010 at 11:02 AM

    I disagree. This is the easier side of the bracket. We should have no trouble with Russia because of out guard play. Brazil will be out first test.

  2. Cody - Sep 3, 2010 at 4:13 PM

    This writer has zero clue about international basketball. Lol. Croatia and Serbia is one of the top two games of the 1st round??? Over Argentina vs. Brazil?? 2 seed vs a 3 seed and continental rivals. Serbia (who won Group A) is head and shoulders above Croatia who finished 4th in group B (last team in). Croatia is very young and inexperienced and doesn’t have near the depth that Serbia has. Serbia and Turkey are the two best teams on that side of the bracket. Turkey has SIX players who are 6’10” or taller, have NBA talent, depth and the home crowd. Spain in the final??? Lol. Spain lost depth and leadership with the absense of Pau Gasol and Calderon. Please watch the games before writing a story…and don’t base your picks off of a tournament that happened two years ago. These teams are all very different.
    But I can’t wait until the first round starts because there are a ton of great games (Spain vs Greece, Argentina vs Brazil, and Slovenia vs Australia will all be pretty evenly matched…and there are always the unexpected close games so we’re in for a great first round!).

  3. Truth - Sep 4, 2010 at 10:23 AM

    No arrogance…just execution. USA didn’t start taking any international BBall competition seriously until 2006. And USA has been the class of international basketball both on and off the court since then. No country has a resume anywhere close to this:
    1) Our A-Team cruised to the gold the last global competition (’08 Olympics): USA went undefeated, won by an average of 28ppg, beat every major “world power” by 20+, beat the 2nd best team in the world at the time (Spain) TWICE (once by 11 and once by 37) and never even trailed in the 2nd half of a game the ENTIRE TOURNAMENT.
    2) Our U16, U17, U18 AND U19 USA teams are all undefeated over the last two years and have won their respective FIBA World Championships
    3) Team USA hasn’t lost a game in four years and has only trailed in the 2nd half of a game ONCE during that time (and that one time was with our B Team).
    4) Our B Team just cruised to 5-0 in what was dubbed the ‘toughest group’ of the World Championships (and by B-Team I mean a team made up of ZERO players from our A-team…not A-team minus a few players)
    5) The world still knows USA is the best. They have our “B Team” ranked ahead of the rest of the world: (See this blog from ballineurope.com)
    http://www.ballineu rope.com/national-te ams/fiba-world-champ ionship-power-rankin gs-tournament-6116/# more-7419

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