The 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup begins tomorrow, and Serge Ibaka remains the last Thunder player standing in the tournament. Therefore, I’ve decided to go ahead with the 2014 FIBA coverage from Team Spain’s perspective. It’s kind of fitting, seeing as Spain is the host country for the tournament. Plus, Team Spain remains highly optimistic about their chances, even in the face of being projected to fall to Team USA in the Championship Game.
As they are still expected to be playing for a FIBA World Cup, they open the tournament ranked 2nd. They will be the final game of opening day, tipping off at 3pm CST tomorrow as they open Group A play against Iran.
Team Spain’s chances are helped by the fact that their squad features 6 NBA players. Besides the Thunder’s Ibaka, the Gasol brothers (Pau for the Bulls, Marc for the Grizzlies), Ricky Rubio (Timberwolves), Jose Calderon (Knicks), and Victor Clavier (Blazers) are all wearing Team Spain jerseys for this FIBA run.
Tomorrow should be a cakewalk for Team Spain. While Iran went 9-0 to claim the 2014 FIBA Asia Championship, they’re still ranked 20th to open the tournament. While I’m sure every one of their players’ stars shine bright in their country’s Superleague, there’s a reason they didn’t register on the worldwide NBA radar. If one or more of them are housing NBA-caliber skills, I’m sure they’ll make themselves known as the tournament progresses.
As we went over in my initial 2014 FIBA primer (I’m giving you the link here, since it was published nearly a month ago), every team in each group plays each other in a round robin. The 2 teams with the worst win percentages from the initial round will be eliminated from each group, as the remaining teams move on to the Knockout Round of 16. Spain is in Group A along with Iran, 46th-ranked Egypt (who made the final field of 24 by placing 2nd in the 2014 FIBA Africa Championship), 11th-ranked Serbia, 10th-ranked Brazil, and 8th-ranked France.
Once again, the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup tips off tomorrow. Spain plays Iran at 3pm CST. Check your local listings for TV availability.