Connect with us

Basketball

FIBA World Cup Preview: Group C

Group C in 2023 FIBA World Cup - Image Credit: FIBA

Group C play of the 2023 FIBA World Cup begins Saturday, August 26th with a tremendous set of four teams ready to battle it out on the biggest stage in Manila, Philippines. So, who ya got in Group C — USA, Jordan, Greece or New Zealand? 

Here’s everything you need to know, continuing with Group C:

🇺🇸USA (FIBA Rank: 2)

How They Got Here: After a pretty disappointing 7th place finish in the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China, the United States hopes to return to their basketball dominance on the world stage, and earn a sixth world title. The USA had a relatively smooth run in the Americas Qualifiers, despite some tough matchups, and now that the NBA is in it’s offseason, the roster added some heavy reinforcements.

The Guy: Going into their exhibition matches in early August, the general consensus was that New York Knicks star Jalen Brunson would be the main scorer and leader for this year’s USA squad.

Jalen Brunson in Team USA Media Day – Image Credit: FIBA

But emerging from the pack has been a younger NBA star: Minnesota Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards. Head coach Steve Kerr has been raving about Edwards, comparing him to the “next Dwyane Wade” for Team USA. Edwards has averaged 18.8 in their five exhibition games, including a 34-point outbreak in a comeback win versus Germany earlier this week. A one-two punch of Edwards and Brunson could be deadly for their title hopes.

X-Factor: In reality, the US is filled with x-factors; every player on their team is capable of scoring 20-plus at a moment’s notice. The biggest worry for this team, really, is their team chemistry. Thus, a guy like Tyrese Haliburton, who averaged a league-leading 10.4 assists per game last NBA season, could be a massive help at moving the ball against some of the tougher defenses they’re bound to face in knockout rounds. Until then, though, pure talent will be enough to advance the USA.

🇯🇴Jordan (FIBA Rank: 33)

How They Got Here: Jordan just barely snuck in through the Asia Qualifiers, earning the fourth and last spot in their group with a 10-6 overall record. Their tournament hopes were secured when they earned a thrilling one-point win over the Philippines, where two big performances from Dar Tucker and Freddy Ibrahim.

The Guy: Speaking of Ibrahim, it seems as though this year’s tournament will feature Ibrahim as the premiere player and likely the leading scorer. During their qualifying games, he was the team leader in minutes (31.8) and third in points (10.9) per game. At 26 years old, Ibrahim looks like the future of Jordanian basketball, and has a great opportunity to show it to his country in the coming weeks.

X-Factor: While Ibrahim seems like the leader of this year’s Jordan team, the star of an otherwise disappointing tournament performance in 2019 was Ahmad Al Dwairi. Though he’s now in his thirties, Al Dwairi is still capable of putting up huge performances, like he did four years ago against the Dominican Republic, putting up 34 points. Jordan’s guard play could make them a real under-the-radar threat if everything goes as expected.

🇬🇷Greece (FIBA Rank: 9)

How They Got Here: Greece is known for being one of the most consistent teams, not because of any big names they have, but because of their rough-and-tumble defense and team-focused offense, the Greeks can go as far as they want. During EuroBasket 2023, they snuck in with a 9-5 record, and now have reinforcements to help them out come World Cup time.

Giannis Antetokounmpo in 2022 FIBA Basketball World Cup European Qualifiers – Image Credit: FIBA

The Guy: Head coach Dmitris Itoudis is known as one of the best international coaches in the business, but he won’t have it easy this time around without the Greek Freek himself. Two-time NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo made a difficult decision in sitting out for this year’s World Cup after a nagging left knee injury, which forced his hand and caused him to stay home.

Now, without Giannis, there will be big shoes to fill. But who better than his older brother, Thanasis Antetokounmpo, to provide some star-power where Greece clearly lacks it. Though Thanasis isn’t nearly as talented as the NBA Champ, he has the raw talent to take his home country farther than most might think.

Thanasis Antetokounmpo – Image Credit: FIBA

X-Factor: Greece’s exhibition play was quite telling for who they might have to rely on scoring-wise. Though it’s still clear that Itoudis is going to play team basketball, at some point or another, there will have to be one or two guys who come forward if Greece wants to make any real noise. Thus far, it looks like 30 year-old point guard Thomas Walkup could do that job.

The 6’11”, 256-pound beast proved his worth, especially in games against Slovenia and Germany, where he was the Greeks’ leading scorer (15 and 8 points, respectively), and moved the ball with ease, tallying 6 and 7 assists in those two games as well. Where their star power is dire, the Greeks could be provided with a huge boost if a guy like Walkup can provide some offensive efficiency.

🇳🇿New Zealand (FIBA Rank: 26)

How They Got Here: New Zealand, despite not having any specific names that pop out to the average basketball enthusiast, have been known to produce one of the highest-scoring offenses over the past half-decade. They averaged nearly 100 points per game in the 2019 World Cup, but were unable to make it past the Group Stage. In the Asian Qualifiers, however, they did the same thing and were extremely impressive, finishing at the top of their group twice in a row, and earning an easy path to Manila.

Flynn Cameron completing a block – Image Credit: FIBA

The Guy: The center of the Kiwis fast-paced style of play is ball-handler Flynn Cameron, the son of head coach Pero Cameron, who recently finished his college career at UC Riverside, and now is primed to lead his home country, and father, into the knockout round. Flynn can only hope to follow in Pero’s footsteps, who brought the Tall Blacks to a podium finish back in 2002.

X-Factor: Manning the frontcourt for New Zealand will be Finn Delany, who was one of the stars on the German club basketball league winners in Telekom Baskets Bonn.

Finn Delany – Image Credit: FIBA

Delany looked like a future star for his home country as well during their final two exhibition matches preceding official World Cup play: in formidable matchups versus China and Italy, Delany averaged 12.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists, looking like a do-it-all player.

Prediction:

  1. USA
  2. Greece
  3. Jordan
  4. New Zealand

The United States is simply no match for any of the other teams in their group, and the pure talent they have is going to overwhelm all three of their opponents in a way they haven’t yet seen. Between Greece, Jordan, and New Zealand, though, it’s anyone’s game: I can only guess that Greece will come out on top because of their already solid history in the FIBA World Cup, and great coaching. Jordan and New Zealand certainly will not embarrass themselves, but they just don’t yet have enough talent to win on the biggest stage. 

Follow us on Social Media for updates and exclusive content

Instagram: @latinosportsoficial

Facebook: Latino Sports

Twitter: @latinosports

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Advertisement

Facebook

Latest Article

More in Basketball