As 24 teams prepare to fight… for their right to be named basketball "Champions of the World" What do you say? Minne Wolves!

For the 2010 FIBA World Championship in Turkey; consider this illusionary  subjective list of the top rated 11 eleven teams, based on diverse opinions just floating around.  

Note, FIBA has its own official world rankings, but those are claimed to be based on results over the past eight years.

The FIBA rating is to the far right in the Table.  You may see why these ratings are arbitrary, subjective and problematic at best and anyone reviewing this could make a credible argument to alter the ratings significantly.

Eight years ago, Team USA was led by those not even hear today, whereas the gold medal  Yugoslavian team (yes, Yugoslavia!) was led by a spry Dejan Bodiroga and a young athletic Peja Stojakovic, who is not even included this year.  Needless to say, what happened in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2008 and last year may have incredibly, little impact on what will happen in 2010. That is why these rankings are subjective!  These rankings are based on a perspective of where the teams supposedly stand right now…?

Notwithstanding , the emergence of a super star such as Kevin Durant,  or a unknown such as Nemanja Bjelica’s leading a deep bench of young tall athletic seven footers of Serbia.  Consider the synergy of rising impassioned team play- led by a young Rubio of Spain;  Or a cadre of super-hot perimeter sharpshooters, or an injury to a key player, or a surprising roster cut, or the decision of Pau Gasol to not play and all these subjective ratings… spin out of control like a Las Vegas roulette wheel,  and change things dramatically.

These ratings--- are subjective based on recent roster changes, recent performances and other idiosyncratic rationale.

  And if you can be so sure of your bias;  Place your bets!!!

          The unedited draft and diverse opinions of 7 different macdaddies!

Rank / Nation


Recent Results


1. Spain


2nd '08 Olympics, 1st '09 Eurobasket


Spain succumbed to the USA's Redeem Team in Beijing. But the Redeem Team is not  going to Turkey.  Team USA didn't exactly blow the Spaniards out in the Olympic final;  Kobe Bryant needed every bucket to hold off a surge led by Juan Carlos Navarro.  Spain will be without Pau Gasol, its best player; but Team USA will be without most of its entire 2006-2008 roster.  The current squad's best player, Kevin Durant, might be the only player better than his 2008 counterpart, and at any position.

Nearly all of Spain's key players save Pau have returned, but his brother Marc and other Bros, young and improving are here to carry on.  Spain won every knockout game at Euro Basket last summer by 20.  Yet was unexpectedly beaten in the preliminary round, by a young and unknown Serbian team. Spain is the “Team USA of Europe” equal to America?

1. USA


3rd '06 Worlds, 1st '08 Olympics


The United States is the overwhelming Vegas favorites.  And is a sign the betting public has no short- or long-term or any memory.  For team USA has already demonstrated chemistry sometimes;  cannot be conjured or summoned up in two months? Remember, the first travails of the Redeem Team ended up in defeat (some would say humiliation) in 2006; even when LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Dwight Howard first got together,  Greece shockingly knocked them out of contention in the semifinals of the World Championship.  Never mind that the current roster, which some think is a few steps below the previous teams, and the question of chemistry.  Team USA has only one set of teammates (Durant and Russell Westbrook), while players on other teams have been playing together, sacrificing for 5-10 years.  And that… may be a hard deficit to overcome;  No matter how amazing Durant or another can be, or how solid the backcourt. 

Team USA will blow out most teams.  But they will be challenged and pushed to the limit--- to raise their game, by the Olympic and Euro champs and yet unproven rising stars.  Don’t count out prematurely, the special magic of enigmatic coach K…and the unrelenting flow of a stream of fresh yet unheralded talent!

3. Greece


3rd '09 Eurobasket


Greece had a rough EuroBasket, despite the bronze, but were missing key stars Theo Papaloukas and Dimitris Diamantidis, both of whom have returned to the fold for Turkey. Led by Lithuanian coach Jonas Kazlauskas, who ran the Chinese program in the lead-up to the Beijing Olympics and who has EuroBasket and Olympic medals from his days coaching Lithuania, Greece figures to be a top-rung contender out of Group C. Don't forget that the Greeks are the last team to beat Team USA in major international competition.

4. Brazil


1st '09 Americas


Brazil is more of a team on the rise than an established contender; the Brazilians, after all, haven't qualified for three straight Olympiads and haven't medaled at the World Championship since 1978. Brazil finished a disastrous 17th in the 2006 Worlds in Japan, winning just one game. Against Qatar. But the tide is changing for Brazil. The nation ran through the 2009 FIBA Americas field, taking gold over Argentina, Puerto Rico and Canada.

Brazil has its full complement of players, including NBA names like Leandro Barbosa, Nene and Anderson Varejao. But the team's best player might be Tiago Splitter, who will play for the Spurs next season. Splitter, MVP of the Spanish league last year, is a brilliant big man who, in combination with Varejao and Nene, figures to give Team USA's limited frontline depth a real challenge. And we know Brazil will get the opportunity to do so: the nations meet on the third day of group play, August 30, potentially with the top spot in Group B on the line. Something we'll discuss more as the tournament approaches is how important the hiring of legendary Argentinian coach Ruben Magnano, who led his home nation to Olympic gold in 2004, is for Brazil.

5. Argentina


3rd '08 Olympics, 3rd '09 Americas


In all likelihood, Argentina will lose its No. 1 spot in FIBA's official world ranking after this tournament, barring a real surprise. Certainly, the brackets have set up nicely for Argentina; if the team can win its group over Serbia and Australia, it would potentially avoid both Spain and the United States until the final. Not to say Argentina won't have its challenges in group play (Serbia is tough, and Australia can cause problems) or in the early knockout stage (Greece or Turkey loom), but the path to a medal is far easier for the winner of Argentina's Group A. The Argentines likely need the help: Manu Ginobili is out, Andres Nocioni can't practice and -- while Carlos Delfino and Luis Scola should be among the top five in tournament at their positions -- the talent isn't terribly deep at this point.

6. Serbia


2nd '09 EuroBasket


Renowned Serbian coach Dusan Ivkovic led the legendary Yugoslavian teams, of the late '80s and early '90s to a top-three finish in every major tournament the nation played.  He returned to Serbia at the urgings of Vlade, in 2008 to resurrect a broken, discredited,  program; to lead the nation back from its embarrassing string of performances; which began in 2003 at Euro Basket and extended through the same tournament in 2007. But that was yesterday… and Serbia on its own… or as a part of great legacy Yugoslavian Champion; which had won five of six Euro Basket titles before 2003; all of a sudden, was hanging out there… broken in pieces… with the unheralded of basketball.
But Dusan Ivkovic and a fresh influx of young unknown talent changed it all.  As the young squad ripped through Euro Basket qualifying in 2008 and surged all the way to the Silver in Poland last summer, even shocking Spain in early rounds before succumbing to the almighty power of Pau in the final. Serbia now needs to prove its redemption… on the world stage.  Recent successes and a deep, young roster of athletic Big’s; surprising chemistry and the leaderships of a proven point guard and an unknown, unusual, boyish, gracious    6-11 play maker-a point forward;  Inspires the nation's confidence!  Winning Group A would set up an impassioned run to the medals. They will have to and only if … they get pass  Argentina and Australia.

7. France


5th '09 EuroBasket


Since Vincent Collet took over as coach of Les Bleus in 2009, France has gone 12-3, with wins over Greece, Turkey, Russia and Croatia (twice). In fact, the French lost just once at Eurobasket '09, fewer times than any other team (including champion Spain). However, that loss came to the Spaniards in the quarterfinals, knocking Les Bleus into the consolation bracket. A key deficit in the time since EuroBasket: star point guard Tony Parker won't play in Turkey. Instead, Nando de Colo of Valencia and Maverick Rodrigue Beaubois will run the floor. France's NBA-level frontcourt of Joakim Noah (Bulls), Boris Diaw (Charlotte) and Ian Mahinmi (Dallas) will pose problems for smaller opponents.

8. Australia


7th '08 Olympics


Australia continues to grow as a basketball-producing nation, and it shows on the national team, where four NBA-level players -- Andrew Bogut, Patrick Mills, David Andersen and Nathan Jawai -- contribute. Unfortunately, Bogut is still recovering from his gruesome arm injury and won't play in Turkey. Jawai has also been scratched. That leaves it to Mills, backcourt-mate Brad Newley and an assortment of skilled big men. The Boomers have a chance at beating out either Argentina or Serbia in Group A, but no one would be surprised if Australia fell to third in the group. That means trouble in the knockout round -- the third team from Group A draws the second place team from Group B, which will likely be Brazil or Team USA.

9. Slovenia


4th '09 Eurobasket


Slovenia is richly talented, with brilliant guard Goran Dragic and solid big men like Primoz Brezec, Uros Slokar and Bostjan Nachbar. Unfortunately, two other NBA players -- Beno Udrih and Sasha Vujacic -- have clashed with team management over playing time and won't make the trip to Turkey. Star power forward Erazem Lorbek also won't play. On one hand, the team should be fine with Dragic and point guard Jaka Lakovic, currently Ricky Rubio's backup at Barcelona. On the other hand, having players as good as Udrih and Vujacic can't hurt. Slovenia just needs to beat out Iran and Tunisia to advance from group play, which should be easy enough. It gets trickier from there, of course.



10. Turkey


8th '09 Eurobasket


Turkey's 8th-place finish in Europe last summer is misleading. The team played brilliantly until Greece, a power in its own right, knocked the Turks out in the quarterfinals. In the consolation bracket, Turkey tanked. But before all that, Turkey had beaten Spain, Serbia and Lithuania. Mehmet Okur is out, but Turkey might have the deepest frontline outside of Brazil. Semih Erden, Omer Asik, Ersan Ilyasova and Hedo Turkoglu -- that's a multi-skilled set of bigs who could pose problems for smaller opponents.

11. Croatia


6th '09 Eurobasket


Led by former Raptor Roko Ukic and Real Madrid center Ante Tomic, the Croats always seem to be on the precipice of breaking through ... but just haven't pulled it off. The team may never recapture the glory of the Petrovic-Kukoc-Radja era, but Croatia can be better than it has in the recent past. It will sure get some high-profile opportunities, landing in Team USA's Group B. The Americans will actually be Croatia's first test, on August 28.


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