Argentina will take on minnows South Korea as both sides open their FIBA World Cup campaigns at the Wuhan Sports Centre.
Both these teams are part of one of the tightest groups in the tournament. Russia and Nigeria are the other two teams in the group, and neither one of them are slouches. Argentina entered the drawing process as one of the top seeds but certainly did not get a group which reflected that. They were great in the qualifiers, winning 9 of their 12 games. Argentina will enter Group B as the favorites to progress to the knockout rounds.Embed from Getty Images
Argentina are currently ranked 5th in the world. They reached the top spot in the rankings back in 2008. In the 2004 Olympic Games, Argentina claimed the gold medal, beating a lot of excellent teams along the way. They have played in all the World Cups since 1986, but last got hands on the trophy in 1950. That was the only time they won the tournament. In the last edition of the World Cup Argentina finished 11th in the competition.
Veteran Sergio Hernandez will lead the Argentinian charge at the World Cup. He accepted the tight group. “In any case, as we know, at World Cups, every game is crucial,” he said. “There are no easy opponents and predictions serve for very little. You have to perform on the court. It’s like that; there are no secrets. We are going to prepare ourselves to be up to the standard required.”
They will face South Korea who are currently ranked 32nd in the world. After failing to qualify for three consecutive editions of the World Cup, they finally made it last time in Spain. In that tournament, they had a poor display, finishing 23rd. They have been much better in the Asian Games. South Korea were crowned as the champions in 2014 and finished in third place in the 2018 Asian Games.Embed from Getty Images
South Korea will go into the World Cup with a squad having a blend of youth and experience. Kim Sun-Hyung, Oh Se-Keun, and Kim Jong-Kyu are the only three players who featured in the last edition of the World Cup. They will be expected to contribute heavily to the team this time as well. Ra GunA will be another crucial player for South Korea. He had a player efficiency rating of 34.0, which was the highest in the Asian QUalifiers.
Coach Kim Sang-Shik is realistic about the expectations. “In terms of our objective, Korea’s realistic goal is to get one win,” he said. “We will need more preparation if we want to get any more than that.”
Argentina vs South Korea Prediction
Argentina will go into the game as favorites. Their high ranking should see them get the win against South Korea. Argentina were the winners the last time these two sides met, which was in the 1996 Olympics. They should get the easy win, which should be by a margin of more than 10 points in the end.