FIBA sets groups for 2014 World Cup of Basketball as Team USA eyes another gold
FIBA set the groupings for the 2014 World Cup of Basketball, to be held in Spain this August and September, in a public drawing on Monday.
USA Basketball, the world's top-ranked team after winning gold at the 2010 World Championships and back-to-back golds in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, was placed in Group C. Joining the United States in Group C is Turkey, who took home silver as the host country at the 2010 World Championships.
The USA's top challenger, No. 2 ranked Spain, was placed in Group A, setting up a possible championship game showdown. Spain took gold at the 2011 EuroBasket, silver at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, and bronze at the 2013 EuroBasket.
Joining Spain in Group A is France, who captured gold at the 2013 EuroBasket.
Here are the full draw results, which split 24 teams into four groups of six teams. FIBA rankings for each team are in parentheses.
Group A: Spain (No. 2), France (No. 8), Brazil (No. 10), Serbia (No. 11), Iran (20), Egypt (46)
Group B: Argentina (No. 3), Greece (No. 5), Croatia (No. 16), Puerto Rico (No. 17), Philippines (No. 34), Senegal (No. 41)
Group C: United States (No. 1), Turkey (No. 7), New Zealand (No. 19), Dominican Republic (No. 26), Finland (No. 39), Ukraine (No. 45)
Group D: Lithuania (No. 4), Australia (No. 9), Slovenia (No. 13), Angola (No. 15), Mexico (No. 24), South Korea (no. 31)
The preliminary round will commence on Aug. 30, with each team playing the other five teams in its group once each. From there, the top four teams from each group will then advance to the final round, where the 16 remaining teams will play a typical bracket-style series of do-or-die games until a champion is crowned. The gold medal game will be played in Madrid on Sept. 14.
Not that the United States -- which has dominated international basketball since Duke's Mike Krzyzewski took over as coach in 2005 -- really needs to be concerned about such things, but their group drawing couldn't have gone any better. Group C has the weakest average FIBA ranking of the four groups, while Spain must contend with three other top squads in Group A.
"While I'm confident the United States will field another competitive team that will represent our country proudly, winning the World Cup is no easy road," Krzyzewski said in a statement. "With teams around the world getting better each year, the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup promises to be one of the most competitive worlds ever. Spain as the host country will play on its home court and will have its fans in full support, which only makes them even more difficult to play. Argentina, Lithuania, France, Australia and Puerto Rico are all familiar foes that are immensely talented, and I'm sure they will compete for the world title."
USA Basketball recently announced a 28-man player pool that will be used to fill out the 2014 FIBA World Cup team and the 2016 Olympics team. Thunder forward Kevin Durant and Timberwolves forward Kevin Love committed to playing for the 2014 team during a press conference last summer, and they will headline another star-studded roster that could also include the likes of Pacers forward Paul George, Rockets center Dwight Howard, Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge, Warriors guard Stephen Curry, Thunder guard Russell Westbrook, Rockets guard James Harden and Pelicans forward Anthony Davis.
Trash-talk between the USA and Spain has been a regular occurrence over the years, and a potential gold medal game between the two countries would set Durant against Serge Ibaka, his Oklahoma City teammate.
"I look forward to kicking his ass," Durant told Marca.com.
Kobe Bryant, 35, suggested recently that his time competing for USA Basketball is up, but he did say that he will "spectate" at future competitions. The two-time gold medalist also couldn't resist getting in a dig at Lakers teammate Pau Gasol, whose Spain team took second to the USA in both the 2008 and 2012 Oympics.
"I'll go watch Pau win another silver," Bryant said, in comments recorded by LakersNation.com. The FIBA World Cup of Basketball is held every four years and was previously known as the FIBA World Championships.