Defending champions USA will open their FIBA World Cup campaign against the Czech Republic at the Shanghai Oriental Sports Center.
The USA has been the dominant team in international basketball throughout history. They have won the gold medal in all but three of the Olympic Games they participated in. The USA has won the World Cup the last two times. They beat Serbia in the final of the 2014 edition, and Turkey were the runners-up in 2010 final. The strength of the NBA has facilitated such dominance on the international stage for the USA.Embed from Getty Images
They impressed in the qualification stage, losing just one game out of the eight they played. The USA Basketball chairman announced the 20-man squad which will take part in training camp ahead of the World Cup. The likes of James Harden, Damian Lillard, and Anthony Davis will lead the charge in China. This squad of 20 players will be rounded off to 12 which will take part in the tournament. Six new players who were added are Kyle Kuzma, Brook Lopez, Paul Millsap, Donovan Mitchell, Jayson Tatum, and PJ Tucker.
Mike Krzyzewski was the coach at the previous three World Cups for the USA. He will now step down, and Gregg Popovich will take over. Popovich is the coach of the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA. He has broken many records during an extended stay in San Antonio. The Spurs have won five NBA titles during his time at the franchise.
“I am excited about getting to training camp in August and working with all of the players that have been selected to attend the USA national team training camp in Las Vegas,” said Popovich about the new experience. “We’ve got an excellent cross-section of veteran USA Basketball and NBA players, as well as some exciting younger players who possess amazing versatility.”
They will come up against relative underdogs in the form of the Czech Republic. This is the first World Cup for their country since breaking away from Czechoslovakia. They have failed to qualify for a single Olympic Games yet. In the last Euro-basket tournament, they finished 20th. Their FIBA World ranking is 24th, and they will be hoping to make the knockout stages for the first time.Embed from Getty Images
This will be the first competitive game between the two sides. Coach Ronen Ginzburg is upbeat about his side’s chances. “Everyone is excited. It’s a tough group, but still, we’re there, and it doesn’t happen every day,” he said. “Players believe in the team, I believe in the team. We had a good feeling from the Qualification and hoped to continue in the World Cup.”
Czech Republic vs USA Prediction
The USA will be the overwhelming favorites to beat the Czech and start their tournament with a win. They have too much quality, and the inexperience of the Czech on this level should play right into their hands. The game will be one-sided, and the USA should score more than 90 points. The point differential should be more than 20 points in their favor.