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FIBA World Cup Preview

Looking at the players, strenghts, weaknesses and key questions for every team that participates in the FIBA World Cup .

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports




C Tiago Splitter Anderson Varejão Rafael Hettsheimeir
PF Nenê Guilherme Giovannoni -
SF Marcelinho Machado Marcus Vieira -
SG Leandro Barbosa Alex Garcia -
PG Marcelinho Huertas Larry Taylor Raulzinho Neto

(Former) NBA players: Leandro Barbosa (PHX), Nene (WAS), Tiago Splitter (SAS), Anderson Varejao (CLE), Raul Neto (UTA - rights), Alex Garcia

Notable absentees: Bruno Cabloco (TOR), Vitor Faverani (BOS)

Average height: 6'6 | Average age: 30


STRENGHTS: The gang is reunited and features some of the very best that international basketball can offer. The well-known frontcourt of Nene, Varejao and Splitter is loaded with passing and defense prowess. These three should work beautifuly with FC Barcelona's floor general Marcelinho Huertas who wow'd some fans at the exhibition game against Team USA.

WEAKNESSES: Age and wings. Brazil is the oldest team in the competition, relying on crafty veterans. At the FIBA Americas championship last year, Brazil shockingly lost all their games and needed a wild card to get into the World Cup. Being without their NBA players, Brazil relied on their youth a little more like back-up point guard Raul Neto, but still managed to have an age average of 28 at that competition. All their wings are playing in the weaker Brazilian league. Barbosa is an exception but he's 31 already, came off injury last year and lost a step which was so crucial to his run and gun game.

KEY QUESTIONS: How far can the frontcourt and Huertas carry them? Who will step up and score?

WHY SHOLD I WATCH THEM? Huertas is fun to watch. There should be beautiful chemistry going on between Huertas and his bigs. Due to his role on the Spurs and the fact that he can't dunk, Splitter is not super popular among US. However, he is one of the very best bigs in international ball and a joy to watch in a bigger role.




C Assem Marei Mouhamad El-Lethi Anas Osama Mahmoud
PF Rami Ibrahim Haytham Kamal -
SF Ibrahim El-Gammal Ahmad Baraka -
SG Youssef Shousha Sherif Abd Alla -
PG Wael Badr Mouhanad El-Sabagh Ibrahim Abou-khadra

NCAA players: Omar Oraby (USC), Assem Marei (MSU Mavericks), Anas Osama Mahmoud (Lousville)

Average height: 6'5 | Average age: 26


I won't pretend that I knew a lot about this team so no strengths, weaknesses and so on. There are no players with NBA or European experience on the roster which should show in this brutal group that mostly features excellent frontcourts. They have a couple of NCAA players. They were also a cinderella story at the last FIBA Africas championship. After losing all three preliminary round games and (logically) making the playoffs, they somehow went on a hot streak and made it to the final. There, they were without chance against Angola but super happy to have qualified for the World Cup.

Egypt's recent success is remarkable because the political instability in the country has caused some key players to temporarily retire from the team. Good to have you, Egypt, have some fun and get your program rolling.




C Ian Mahinmi Rudy Gobert Joffrey Lauvergne
PF Boris Diaw Florent Piétrus -
SF Nicolas Batum Mickael Gelabale -
SG Evan Fournier Edwin Jackson Charles Kahudi
PG Antoine Diot Thomas Heurtel -

(Former) NBA players: Ian Mahinmi (IND), Rudy Gobert (UTA), Boris Diaw (SAS), Nicolas Batum (POR), Evan Fournier (ORL), Joffrey Lauvergne (DEN - rights), Mickael Gelabale

Notable absentees: Tony Parker (SAS), Nando De Colo, Joakim Noah (CHI), Alexis Ajinca (NOP)

Average height: 6'6 | Average age: 26


STRENGHTS: Experience, coming off a EuroBasket victory and a couple of versatile NBA players like Boris Diaw and Nicolas Batum. This will not be the France we saw at the EuroBasket, but they are still tall, athletic and were able to integrate up-and-coming talent like 22-year olds Rudy Gobert, Joffrey Lauvergne and 21-year old Evan Fournier.

WEAKNESSES: France is missing a bunch of key players which will lower the expectations significantly. Who's missing and how many minutes did they play at the EuroBasket? Tony Parker - 326 minutes. Nando De Colo - 218 minutes. Alexis Ajinca - 211 miuntes. Combined, that's 755 minutes that have to be replaced by mostly inexperienced players at this level . Especially Parker's absence and De Colo's late injury hurt and puts presure on their replacements. Antoine Diot has some experience with the NT, Fournier and Heurtel not so much.

KEY QUESTIONS: Will Batum and Diaw show up? Can one of the young ballhandlers step up? Can Lauvergne, Gobert and Fournier contribute?

WHY SHOLD I WATCH THEM? Usually, France would be considered a contender. Just look at the EuroBasket roster and imagine Joakim Noah would join that team. Still, this team could be fun. Eveybody fell in love with Diaw during the NBA Finals and Fournier, Gobert, Lauvergne are exciting NBA prospects.




C Hamed Haddadi Rouzbeh Arghavan -
PF Asghar Kardoust Arman Zangeneh -
SF Samad Nikkhah Arsalan Kazemi -
SG Hamed Afagh Oshin Sahakian Mohammad Jamshidi
PG Mahdi Kamrani Behnam Yakchalidehkordi Sajjad Mashayekhi

(Former) NBA players: Arsalan Kazemi (PHI - rights), Hamed Haddadi

Average height: 6'6 | Average age: 26


I don't know much about them, sorry. They have been a a powerhouse at the FIBA Asia championship. There's a guy named Behnam Yakchalidehkordi on the team. Former NBA giant Hamed Haddadi is their star. Oh yeah! Sixers draftee Arsalan Kazemi too! There's a reason to watch them.... I guess.




C Nenad Krstić Miroslav Raduljica Vladimir Štimac
PF Nemanja Bjelica Stefan Birčević Luka Mitrović
SF Vladimir Micov Nikola Kalinić Marko Simonović
SG Bogdan Bogdanović Stefan Jovic -
PG Miloš Teodosić Stefan Marković -

(Former) NBA players: Miroslav Raduljica (MIL), Nemanja Nedovic (GSW), Nemanja Bjelica (MIN - rights), Bogdan Bogdanovic (PHX - rights)

Average height: 6'8 | Average age: 26


STRENGHTS: Size. Traditionally, Serbian teams are gigantic at every position. So is this squad at an average height of 6'8" and just one player shorter than 6'3. Plus, the team is stacked with offensive talent. After missing EuroBasket, evil genius and Wolves destroyer Milos Teodosic is back with the team. In his absence, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Nemanja Nedovic and Vasilie Micic gained experience and led Serbia to a good result at the Euro championship. Unfortunately both Nedovic and Micic have been ruled out for the World Cup due to injury, but Milos and Bogdan should be a terror on their own with guys like Bjelica and Krstic heping with the shot creation and playmaking. 

WEAKNESSES: Serbia's defense has been underwhelming for a few years now as Nenad Krstic has become a liability with age. Teodosic/Krstic didn't quite work as a defensive pairing at CSKA and it shouldn't work here either against the top teams. The coaching staff might give the guys behind Krstic more responsibiliyt but at least Milwaukee Buck  Raduljica is not the quickest guy either. Also, the Serbs lack quality spacing but the shot creation should help offset some of that. Bjelica should be a key factor as a glue guy addressing the warts in Serbia's gameplan.

KEY QUESTIONS: Can the Serbs defend?

WHY SHOLD I WATCH THEM? You watched Mlos Teodosic destroy the Timberwolves, scoring more points in that game than Rubio in his Wolves career, and throw the franchise' corpse into a burning dumpster. He's a super fun player doing all sorts of crazy cojones stuff. Watch him. Suns fans might want to take a look at Bogdan Bogdanovic who should thrive in the off-guard role. Nemanja "Sabonis of the Wolves" Bjelica is playing too.




C Marc Gasol Pau Gasol -
PF Serge Ibaka Felipe Reyes Victor Claver
SF Rudy Fernandez Sergio Llull Alex Abrines
SG Juan-Carlos Navarro Jose Calderon -
PG Sergio Rodriguez Ricky Rubio -

(Former) NBA players: Marc Gasol (MEM), Pau Gasol (LAL), Serge Ibaka (OKC), Victor Claver (POR), Jose Calderon (NYK), Ricky Rubio (MIN), Alex Abrines (OKC - rights), Rudy Fernandez, Sergio Rodriguez, Juan-Carlos Navarro

Average height: 6'7 | Average age: 27


STRENGHTS: Dat Frontcourt O_O. Gasol² + Ibaka is just a perfect mix. The athleticism and agility that the Gasols miss due to age or mass can be set off by Serge flying around on defense. It's brutal to score on them, considering that in FIBA there is no defensive 3 second rule. Offensively, Serge's improvment as a shooter is huge.
Rudy Fernandez and especially Sergio Rodrigue went bonkers this season for Real Madrid, at least offensively. They're a terror and especially Sergio "El Beardo" Rodriguez stark improvement has helped in the wake of Navarro and Calderon aging. Ricky "Draco." Rubio is there for cleaning up the messy defense of most those guys and for handsomeness in the midst of all the scary bum beards.

WEAKNESSES: Depth at the wing. What are Alex Abrines and Victor Claver doing here?! How many minutes did Victor Claver play in the last two years? ~100? Whatever. Well, I guess there are no better options. Age could be a problem. I don't know how much Navarro has left in the tank... some nights he reminds me more of Mike "La Holdingmybacka" Miller than the good old "La Bomba".

KEY QUESTIONS: Can they flynn it up somehow at home? Will they dream of JR Holden? Will Rubio make some shots and be happy? #Flopwatch

WHY SHOULD I WATCH THEM? Ricky Rubio in HD after a visit to the barber in a shiny red jersey. Oh, that's not enough? Well, they play at home and Spain fans are awesome. These guys have played together for so long and have great chemistry. Ibaka is a "big boy" now and most those guys had pretty good individual seasons. The weaknesses are minimal... this is a great team.


Meaningful can't miss games:
France vs. Serbia vs. Spain 
Which of the semi-contenders (France/Serbia) is the better one? Can they get an upset over Spain?




C Luis Scola Marcos Delía -
PF Leonardo Gutiérrez Matías Bortolin -
SF Andrés Nocioni Walter Herrmann -
SG Marcos Mata Selem Safar Nicolás Richotti
PG Pablo Prigioni Facundo Campazzo Nicolás Laprovíttola

(Former) NBA players: Luis Scola (IND), Pablo Prigioni (NYK), Andres Nocioni, Walter Herrmann

Notable absentees: Emanuel Ginobili (SAS)

Average height: 6'6 | Average age: 28

STRENGHTS: Argentina's golden generation is aging but should have a little fuel left in the tank. Luis Scola, Andres Nocioni, Walter Herrmann and Pablo Prigioni have their best days behind them but Argentina was able to integrate a number of youngsters. The four veterans who are al either 34 or older are contrasted by five players younger than 24. All of the mare playing club ball in South America though so don't exect the Argentins to play as strong as they used to in past tournaments.

WEAKNESSES: Argentina is missing its golden child, Emanuel Ginobili. Gino was eager to play and use the World Cup as a farewell tour to NT basketball but the Spurs simply vetoed his participation. Likely, Ginobili will never don a blue and white jersey again. Also, the team might lack motivation and chemistry as there has been some turmoil within the organization. Several players complained about financial and organizational mismanagement which might bring the Argentinian basketball association on the brink of FIBA affiliation soon. Luis Scola's voice was the most vocal, saying that this matter was of much bigger significance than the World Cup. The team captain even threatened to not participate out of protest. His sentiments were echoed by his veteran peers, Ginobili, Prigioni and Nocioni. It's not easy to play when the question of the federation's existence is looming over your head. This is likely the last  tourney for most those guys and ending this great international era with demise of the whole program.

KEY QUESTIONS: Will age of their key players be a big problem? How will they look without Ginobili? Can one of the youngsters generate some buzz?

WHY SHOULD I WATCH THEM? They're still Argentina so they will likely overachieve somehow. Also, 5'10" tall Facundo Campazzo is an exciting scorer who is hard to keep out of the paint.



C Ante Tomic Luka Zoric -
PF Damjan Rudez Dario Saric Damir Markota
SF Bojan Bogdanovic Luka Babic Mario Hezonja
SG Krunoslav Simon Rok Stipcevic -
PG Roko Leni Ukic Oliver Lafayette -

(Former) NBA players: Damjan Rudez (IND), Bojan Bogdanovic (BRK), Ante Tomic (UTA - rights), Dario Saric (PHI - rights), Roko Leni Ukic, Damir Markota

Average height: 6'8 | Average age: 26

STRENGHTS: Croatia is trying to build on a strong 4th place at the EuroBasket. Despite Dario's fame, Bojan Bogdanovic is clearly the team's star and key player. Scoring 17 points per game at the EuroBasket, Bogdanovic is a versatile offensive threat with great size who is complemented by former Raptor Roko Leni Ukic, and savvy off-guard Krunoslav Simon. All of those guys can drive it and look either for each other to shoot it or for Damjan Rudez. There's a lot of  passing and ballhandling the Croats can throw out on the floor with Ukic, Simon, Bogdanovic, Saric and Babic.

WEAKNESSES: Defensively, this team is a question mark in the frontcout. At 7'2",  Ante Tomic is a giant in the paint but he's been a weak defender for most of his career. He looked a lot better with Barcelona this year, but whether he can be a difference maker on this squad with guys like Rudez and Saric around him is a question mark.

KEY QUESTIONS: Can Croatia defend? Will Dario dance? Will Mario be pissed off all the time?

WHY SHOULD I WATCH THEM? Dario is playing. Dancing, chest bumps, hair. Don't expect him to play much and be pissed off and overwhelmed all the time, but Mario Hezonja is on this team too. Krunoslav Simon is a fun baller who had 3 game winners in the Euroleague last year. I see them winning the group.



C Ioannis Bourousis Ian Vougioukas -
PF Georgios Printezis Kostas Kaimakoglou -
SF Kostas Papanikolaou Giannis Antetokounmpo Vladimiros Giankovits
SG Nikos Zisis Vangelis Mantzaris Kostas Vasileiadis
PG Kostas Sloukas Nick Calathes -

NBA players: Kostas Papanikolaou (HOU), Giannis Antetokounmpo (MIL), Nick Calathes (MEM)

Notable absentees: Vassilis Spanoulis, Stratos Perperoglou, Thanasis Antetokounmpo (NYK)

Average height: 6'8 | Average age: 26

STRENGHTS: Greece's transition from its golden generation to whatever the future holds has been a painful one with an embarassing Olympic qualyfing loss to Nigeria a few years ago and a disappointing outing at the EuroBasket 2013. The Greeks needed a wild card to take part in the World Cup. But hey, the future might be bright. The Greeks have a decent mix of vets and up-and-coming players like Kostas Papanikolaou, Vangelis Mantzaris and most notably, Giannis Antetokounmpo who will be asked to take over responsibilities.

WEAKNESSES: Vassilis Spanoulis has been a rock in Greek basketball. His absence will be a real test for this team and its younger guards Kostas Sloukas, Vangelis Mantzaris and Nick Calathes. Sloukas had a pretty good year backing up Spanoulis at Olympiacos while Mantzaris, also with Olympiacos, struggled with his play, similar to Calathes with the Grizzlies. None of the Greek guards are very good shooters and longtime hope Kostas Papanikolaou developed more into a role player than a guy who could take over games as an offensive option.

KEY QUESTIONS: Who can make a difference on this team? Who will score? What will they look like without Spanoulis? Will we be able to take our eyes of Giannis?




C Andray Blatche Marcus Douthit Junmar Fajardo
PF Japeth Aguilar Marc Pingris -
SF Ranidel de Ocampo Gabe Norwood -
SG Jeffrei Chan Gary David -
PG Jimmy Alapag LA Tenorio Jayson Castro

NBA players: Andray Blatche (BRK)

Average height: 6'3 | Average age: 30

STRENGHTS: Andray Blatche is on the team. The Philippines are a great basketball nation so it's great to have their fans at this event.

WEAKNESSES: Andray Blatche is on the team. Plus, they're the traditional Anti-Serb. At 6'3, they're at a brutal size disadvantage.

KEY QUESTIONS: Will Andray Blatche do something crazy? Is he simply competing because he finally wants his triple double and knows that none of those tiny Philippines guys can steal his rebounds?

WHY SHOULD I WATCH THEM? Andray Blatche Triple Double Watch!!!!



C Ricky Sanchez Daniel Santiago -
PF Renaldo Balkman Luis Villafane -
SF Alex Galindo John Holland Ramon Clemente
SG Elias Auyso Andres Rodriguez Richard Chaney
PG Carlos Arroyo Jose Juan Barea -

NBA players: Jose Juan Barea (MIN), Renaldo Balkman, Carlos Arroyo

Notable absentees: Peter John Ramos

Average height: 6'6 | Average age: 29

Puerto RicoPuerto RicoPuerto Rico

STRENGHTS: Puerto Rico is a gritty team. It's not crazy to assume that they might give the European teams in this group problems. Their stars are obviously Carlos Arroyo and Wolves villain J.J. Barea. Other than those guys you won't find acclaimed players on the roster. All but one Mexican league vet are playing in the domestic league. So does Renaldo Balkman, former New York Knick.

WEAKNESSES: They're not the tallest team in the competition as they only have three guys at  6'11" and no guys between 6'8-6'10. For some reason, they decided to leave 7'3" giant Peter John Ramos, a 10/5-threat the last few years, at home. Arroyo and Barea are their best players but you can't really pair them against most good teams. They're quite old too as they only have one guy younger than 24.

KEY QUESTIONS: Will J.J. dunk? Is Puerto Rico an island or oh god no no no why do I have to embarrass myself again?

WHY SHOULD I WATCH THEM? J.J. Barea might be attacked by the cat syndicate at one point. They should easily qualify for the knockout stage and might get one or two upsets over the euro teams.

Puerto RicoPuerto RicoPuerto Rico



C Hamady Ndiaye Saer Sene -
PF Gorgui Dieng Mouhammad Faye -
SF Mohamet Diop Maleye Ndoye Maurice Ndour
SG El Hadji Ndiaye Thierno Nyang -
PG Louis Adams Xane Dalmeida Mamadu Ndoye

(Former) NBA players: Gorgui Dieng (MIN), Hamady Ndiaye, Saer Sene

Average height: 6'6 | Average age: 28


STRENGHTS: They seem to get their players out into decent programs as a bunch of guys play in Europe or the NCAA. Additionally, two bigs in Gorgui Dieng and Hamady Ndiaye have recent NBA experience. Their frontcourt and especially Gorgui is likely their best assett.

WEAKNESSES: The guard rotation might be a problem as two of them are amateur players at US colleges. The wing rotation is nothing to go crazy over either.

KEY QUESTIONS: How often will Gorgui block J.J.?

WHY SHOULD I WATCH THEM? Gorgui Dieng plays for them and is featured in a prominent role. Great learning experience. Look for him to be among the top rebounders.


Meaningful can't miss games:
Croatia vs Argentina vs Greece -
Can Croatia dominate its rivals for the 1st seed? Who will get the 2nd seed?




C Eloy Vargas -
PF Orlando Sanchez Ronald Roberts Edward Santana
SF Francisco Garcia Eulis Baez -
SG James Feldeine Elpidio Fortuna Victor Liz
PG Edgar Sosa Juan Coronado -

NBA & NCAA players: Francisco Garcia (HOU), Karl Towns (Kentucky), Ronald Robets (St. Joseph's), Orlando Sanchez (St. John's)

Notable absentees: Al Horford (ATL)

Average height: 6'5 | Average age: 28

Dominican RepublicDominican RepublicDominican Republic

STRENGHTS: The Dominican Republic has a few guys playing in Europe, the NCAA and a potential top NBA pick in Karl Towns. Well, unfortunately Towns won't be playing because his studies are more important to him than a couple minutes at an international event against top talent. Sure. Right. Books and stuff. Without Mr. Towns, 33-year old Francisco Garcia is the most recognizable name on this team. Uhm, yeah, these are their strenghts.

WEAKNESSES: Alright, I know nothing about this team. I think Edgar Sosa is playing in Europe, so are one or two other guys. They also lost to Kentucky University with Karl Towns playing for Kentucky. What.

WHY SHOULD I WATCH THEM? FUTURE TIMBERWOLF KARL TOWNS. A bunch of people think they can get out of the group stage but I don't really see that.

Dominican RepublicDominican RepublicDominican Republic



C Antti Nikkilä Hanno Möttölä -
PF Erik Murphy Kimmo Muurinen Gerald Lee
SF Shawn Huff Samuel Haanpää Matti Nuutinen
SG Sasu Salin Mikko Koivisto -
PG Petteri Koponen Roope Ahonen -

(Former) NBA players: Erik Murphy (UTA), Petteri Koponen (DAL - rights), Hanno Möttölä

Average height: 6'6 | Average age: 29


STRENGHTS: System and defense. Finland has a great basketball program instilled the youth teams on that emphasize ball movement, outside shooting and gritty pressure defense. Guys like Petteri Koponen and Sasu Salin are a nightmare to play against for point guards with a loose handle. Finland started the Eurobasket off very well with a few surprising wins. Surprising some by getting out of the group stage, they ran a little out of gas and couldn't qualify for the World Cup on their own. However, they received a wild card which is cool because they're fun and their fans are awesome. Young NBA player Erik Murphy is debuting at a big event for the Finnish. 37-year old Mascot Hanno Möttölä is back in the mix too.

WEAKNESSES: They lack strong go-to scorers and shot creators that can take some pressure off the offense against springy defensive units that break up their passing.

KEY QUESTIONS: Can they be consistent?

WHY SHOULD I WATCH THEM? Great fans, overachieving and a fun approach with lots of outside shooting. Petteri Koponen is dope and should get a shot at the NBA. They haven't looked good in preparation but I still expect them to make the knockout stage. Most direct competitors in this group rely heavily on their guards which should play in to their game plan.




C Rob Loe Casey Frank -
PF Isaac Fotu Mika Vukona B. J. Anthony
SF Thomas Abercrombie Everard Bartlett -
SG Kirk Penney Lindsay Tait
Corey Webster
PG Tai Webster Jarrod Kenny -

(Former) NBA & NCAA players: Isaac Fotu (Hawaii), Rob Loe (St. Louis), Tai Wbester (Nebraska), Kirk Penney

Notable absentees: Steven Adams (OKC)

Average height: 6'5 | Average age: 27

New ZealandNew ZealandNew Zealand

STRENGHTS: New Zealand is led by 33-year old veteran guard Kirk Penney who played College ball in the States, gained minimal NBA experience and played in Turkey the last few years. Penney has had an off year but he's still a threat to shoot the ball or create shots for himself. Even though he's somewhat at an advanced age, there is a good chance that Penney wil be one of the more explsovie scorers in the tournament again, able to accumulate points in a hurry as he did in 2010 when he dropped 37 on Lithuania. The young NCAA bigs duo of Loe, Fotu should get excessive burn with Steven Adams not participating. 19-year old Tai Webster of Nebraska university is another guy to keep an eye on as he gained valuable experience in the 2012 Olympic Qualification tourney as a 17-year old. There, Webster led the team in scoring. Webster had a rough freshman year in the NCAA where he shot only 30% from the field so this is a good opportunity to regain some confidence.

WEAKNESSES: Steven Adams, the team's charismatic star is not present.  Also, apart from the guys mentioned above, no players of the squad are playing club ball outside of New Zealand or Australia. Also, the team lacks size and features just one player taller than 6'8".

WHY SHOULD I WATCH THEM? They're underdogs but if they are able to survive on the boards, they absolutely have a shot at advancing.

New ZealandNew ZealandNew Zealand



C Ömer Asik Oguz Savas
PF Emir Preldzic Kerem Gönlüm Furkan Aldemir
SF Cenk Akyol Cedi Osman -
SG Sinan Güler Melih Mahmutoglu -
PG Kerem Tunceri
Dogus Balbay Ender Arslan

NBA players: Omer Asik (NOH), Furkan Aldemir (PHI - Rights), Emir Preldzic (DAL - rights)

Notable absentees: Ersan Ilyasova (MIL), Enes Kanter (UTA)

Average height: 6'6 | Average age: 28


STRENGHTS: The ghosts of the past are gone and Turkey can look to bounce back after a disastrous showing at the EuroBasket. The team didn't necessarily get much younger, but the Turks added interesting young talent like Cedi Osman and Furkan Aldemir. Osman just came off a strong Under-20 European Championship performance where he was named MVP. As an 18 year old, he played significant minutes for Euroleague team Anadolu Efes Istanbul last year. He's not quite a unique prospect and has one ugly shot, but has been a nice shot creator at the youth level, played decently with Efes too given age and competition. As a potential secound round pick, NBA scouts will watch him closely.
23-year old Furkan Aldemir logged heavy minutes with Galatasaaray Istanbul, also a Euroleague team. As a low usage forward, Aldemir is a terrific rebounder who finishes his few looks very efficiently.
Omer Asik should be motivated to have a good outing too after being freed from the Rockets, providing rim protection. Emir Preldzic is a nice frontcourt partner playing for Fenerbahce, Istanbul's third Euroleague team. Preldzic is not a great volume scorer but at 6'9" a terrific passer, assisting on more than four field goals per game with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.99 last year. Kerem Gonlum is another paint beast that will contribute.

WEAKNESSES: Spacing and scoring in general should be a problem for the Turks who will miss the shooting  provided by Ilyasova or Turkoglu in the frontcourt. Preldzic was a decent yet streaky shooter. Apart from him, only Cenk Akyol and Melih Mahmutoglu have been reliable shooters last year. Enes Kanter would have been another nice body giving them size and giving them a serious 'tall in the paint' identity.

KEY QUESTIONS: Will the backcourt be functioning?

WHY SHOULD I WATCH THEM? Emir Preldzic is super very fun to watch and Cedi Osman is likely a second round pick next year. Turkey should easily get the second seed despite the question marks but this team has so many faces, everything can happen.





C Viacheslav Kravtsov Kyryl Natyazhko Artem Pustovyi
PF Dmytro Gliebov Maxym Korniyenko -
SF Oleksandr Lypovyy Maksym Pustozovnov -
SG Sergii Gladyr Dmytro Zbirchenko Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk
PG Eugene Jeter Olexandr Mishula -

NBA players: Sergii Gladyr (ATL - rights)

Average height: 6'7 | Average age: 25


STRENGHTS: There is some decent talent on this young team. Sergii Gladyr and Eugene Jeter are household names, even though not of the highest tier in Europe. 17-year old Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk is a super intriguing wing with athleticism and versatility who will play for Kansas in the NCAA next year.
The frontcourt features youngsters who have worked in international surroundings, be it in the NBA (Kravtsov) or the Eurocamp (Lypovyy, Pustovyi, Natyazhko). Despite their young age, they know each other well as they've been part of Ukraine's EuroBakset 2013 squad. The team is coached by Mike Fratello and the program seems to be on a good way.

WEAKNESSES: Ukraine should rely heavily on Eugene Jeter's and Sergii Gladyr's shot creating and making ability. Jeter played in China recently which might cause concerns about his shape given the competition in this tournament. Gladyr played for Euroleague underdog JSF Nanterre where he was asked to perform a similar task. Other ballhandlers like young Olexandr Mishula or swingman Oleksandr Lypovyy might lack the experience and quality to be big contributors yet.

KEY QUESTIONS: Can Jeter and Gladyr keep the offense together? Will Mykhailiuk actually be on the team (oh please)

WHY SHOULD I WATCH THEM? They play a fun brand and had success lately while cultivating decent talent. Of all the no name underdogs, Ukraine might be the most fun one.


Derrick Rose



C Anthony Davis Andre Drummond DeMarcus Cousins
PF Rudy Gay Mason Plumlee Kenneth Faried
SF Klay Thompson DeMar DeRozan -
SG James Harden Steph Curry -
PG Derrick Rose Kyrie Irving -

Average height: 6'7 | Average age: 25


STRENGHTS: Let's just say they are talented.

WEAKNESSES: Let's just say they could have been much more talented.

KEY QUESTIONS: What will the rotations look like?

WHY SHOULD I WATCH THEM? Dunks, Derrick and Davis? 50 point blowouts?


Meaningful can't miss games:
Croatia vs Argentina vs Greece -

Can Croatia dominate its rivals for the 1st seed? Who will get the 2nd seed?


Team (Angola)



C Valdelico Joaquim Jone Pedro -
PF Joaquim Gomes Eduardo Mingas Reggie Moore
SF Olimpio Cipriano Islando Manuel Mutau Fonseca
SG Armando Costa Edmir Lucas -
PG Milton Barros Hermeneglido Dos Santos -

Average height: 6'6 | Average age: 27


STRENGHTS: They won't give up. Angola has undoubtedly been the best team in Africa for some time now but their quality just isn't enough to compete in the world and get to the knockout stage. Still, they compete and this group with multiple underwhelming teams like Korea, New Zealand and Mexico should give them a chance to finally crack the KO stage.

WEAKNESSES: Despite being a powerhouse in their continent, Angola has - unlike other prime African basketball nations - not been able to integrate meaningful talent in oversees development programs like the NCAA.


WHY SHOULD I WATCH THEM? They might not be very talented or exciting, but they bring it every time and it would be nice to see them make it past the group stage for once.




C David Andersen Nathan Jawai -
PF Aron Baynes Cameron Bairstow Brock Motum
SF Joe Ingles Brad Newley -
SG Ryan Broekhoff Chris Goulding -
PG Matthew Dellavedova Dante Exum Adam Gibson

(Former) NBA players: Aron Baynes (SAS), Cameron Bairstow (CHI), Dante Exum (UTA), Matthew Dellavedova (CLE), David Andersen, Nathan Jawai, Chris Goulding

Notable absentees: Patty Mills (SAS), Andrew Bogut (GSW)

Average height: 6'7 | Average age: 26


STRENGHTS: Australia can throw out interesting lineup combination despite missing key pieces in Patty Mills and Andrew Bogut. David Andersen and Nathan Jawai provide veteran experience in the frontcourt and are paired with young NBA hopefuls Aron Baynes and Cameron Bairstow. Joe Ingles and Ryan Broekhoff provide shooting at the 2/3 and 3/4 spot.
The backcourt guarantees fun. Matthew Dellavedova should be sharing ball duties with draft sensation Dante Exum. In a recent exhibition game against Ukraine, Exum scored 14 points and showed that he can be a contributor at this stage despite his age and complete lack of pro experience. Australia can stretch the floor well with Andersen, Ingles and Broekhoff, which should give quirky Dellavedova and lightning fast Exum room to work with. In a weak group, Australia is a threat to attack the 2nd seed behind Lithuania, and given seeding could finish the tournament ranked highly.

WEAKNESSES: In recent years, Australia's offense relied heavily on Patty Mills. Mills wasn't always efficient, but the driving force of Team Australia. How will they relocate his shots? Joe Ingles is likely the team's best scorer but he's more of a role player who scores in fashion of a true first option only on his very best days. David Andersen should help out, but he's not the youngest guy anymore and Matty D might have to take on scoring duties he's not used to either.

KEY QUESTIONS: How will the offense look like without Patty Mills? How will Dante look?

WHY SHOULD I WATCH THEM? Dante Exum, Matty D and fans with inflatable kangaroos.


6. Donggeun YANG (Korea)



C Kim Jong-Kyu Lee Jong-Hyun -
PF Kim Joo-Sung Lee Seung-Jun -
SF Yun Ho-Young Choi Jun-Yong Moon Seong-Gon
SG Cho Sung-Min Kim Min-Goo -
PG Yang Dong-Geun Kim Sun-Hyung Kim Tae-Sool

Average height: 6'4 | Average age: 29


STRENGHTS: Hi Korea, nice to have you. The Koreans will likely look overwhelmed. They are an old team that lacks size, and all their athletes play in the weaker domestic league. Everybody was expecting China to be in this spot, but their opening game loss against Korea at the FIBA 2013 Championship was a bad omen of what would happen. Eventually, China shockingly lost to Chinese Taipei in the quarter finals. Korea went on to claim third place and a ticket to Spain.

WEAKNESSES: They are small and lack talent in strong leagues.

WHY SHOULD I WATCH THEM? If you're into exot basketball, that's your team.





C Jonas Valanciunas Darjus Lavrinovic Ksistof Lavrinovic
PF Mindaugas Kuzminskas Donatas Motiejunas Paulius Jankunas
SF Jonas Maciulis Simas Jasaitis -
SG Renaldas Seibutis Martynas Pocius -
PG Mantas Kalnietis Sarunas Vasiliauskas -

NBA players: Jonas Valanciunas (TOR), Donatas Motiejunas (HOU)

Notable absentees: Linas Kleiza

Average height: 6'8 | Average age: 27


STRENGHTS: Lithuania is expected to stomp through this group and as always, be a sleeper contender. They're a scary two way team with size at every position, lots of basketball IQ, ballhandling, passing and shooting. Mantas Kalnietis is a star point guard with great size playing for Lokomotiv Kuban in Russia. During the EuroBasket campaign which got Lithuania the silver medal, Kalnietis led the team in points and assists. They might miss living legend Sarunas Jasikevicius, but Kalnietis they won't miss him much with Mantas running the team.  Jonas Maciulis is a dead-eye shooter you can't leave open, and Lithuania can stretch the floor all the way to the center position where the old yet still solid Lavrinovic brothers provide shooting and a little defense.
All eyes will be on Jonas Valanciunas again who people are still waiting on to turn into a consistently dominant international player.

WEAKNESSES: There isn't much. Almost all those guys are upper tier players or stars in Europe and they know how to play together. Valanciunas faces a lot of pressure when he puts on the green jersey as expectations in him are very high at home, and sometimes it seems like he's giving himself a hard time for that.

KEY QUESTIONS: Can Valanciunas dominate?

WHY SHOULD I WATCH THEM? They're somewhat like the international Spurs. Versatile, intelligent and unselfish basketball. They have some of the best fans in the world and will give every team hell.





C Gustavo Ayon Adrian Zamora -
PF Hector Hernandez Noe Alonzo -
SF Roman Martinez Marco Ramos Jesus Gonzalez
SG Francisco Cruz Gabriel Giron -
PG Jorge Guttierez Pedro Meza Pau Stoll

(Former) NBA players: Jorge Guttierez (BRK), Gustavo Ayon


Average height: 6'5 | Average age: 27

STRENGHTS: Mexico's hopes lie on the shoulders of young Jorge Guttierez who signed a contract with the Brooklyn Nets late in the season, as well as 29-year old veteran center Gustavo Ayon.

WEAKNESSES: They're at a size disadvantage too, but fortunately are in the weakest group so they could make the knockout stage.

WHY SHOULD I WATCH THEM? I'm a big Jorge Guttierez fan, so I'll watch them.





C Alen Omic Uros Slokar -
PF Miha Zupan Jure Balazic -
SF Edo Muric Jaka Klobucar -
SG Zoran Dragic Klemen Prepelic Domen Lorbek
PG Goran Dragic Jaka Blazic Aleksej Nikolic

(Former) NBA players: Goran Dragic (PHO), Bostjan Nachbar

Notable absentees: Erazem Lorbek, Bostjan Nachbar, Mirza Begic


Average height: 6'6 | Average age: 25

STRENGHTS: Slovenia was super disappointed that their giant stars Goran Dragic and Erazem Lorbek would not participate at the EuroBasket at home.For the World Cup, Dargic and Lorbek reported for duty, but the 30-year old big manunfortunately will have to miss this event due to injury as well. Still, having Dragic is making a huge difference. His frontcourt partner will be his brother Zoran who had a terrific year with Euroleague team Unicaja Malaga. Slovenia will really heavily on their playmaking and scoring.

WEAKNESSES: The frontcourt is qutie thin with Erazem Lorbek, Bostjan Nachbar and Mirza Begic being absent.

KEY QUESTIONS: How far will the Dragic bros carry them?

WHY SHOULD I WATCH THEM? The Dragic bros are fun. The frontcourt problem won't be that noticable in a weaker, undersized group, but they should struggle with quality frontcourts in the knockout stage.


Meaningful can't miss games:

Australia vs. Slovenia -
In this group, it's all about securing the first two seeds and avoiding the USA as long as possible.