Poland and Venezuela will begin their FIBA Basketball World Cup campaigns when they face off at the Cadillac Stadium in Beijing.
This game will be the first group stage game in Group A. Aside from Poland and Venezuela, China and Ivory Coast are the other members of this group. Poland are ranked 25th in the world, and Venezuela are above them in 20th place. Both these teams are the favorites to advance to the next round along with China. Poland and Venezuela have never faced off in a competitive game before, and this will be the first time.
Poland lacks experience in major tournaments in recent years. The last time they qualified for the Olympic Games was way back in 1980. They finished 7th in that edition. Since then, they have failed to make the Olympics. Whether they will make it for Tokyo next year or not – that remains to be seen. But they were strong in the qualification for the World Cup. In the qualifying stages, they won 8 out of their 12 games. That is a strong record, which reflects their world ranking of 25th.Embed from Getty Images
Mike Taylor will be their coach as he will lead a Polish side at a World Cup for the first time in 52 years. He also coaches Hamburg in Germany. The pressure will be on the players to deliver for their country on the big stage. Coach Taylor was upbeat and enthusiastic about his side’s chances.
“It’s going to be a tremendous competition with high intensity,” he said after the draws were made. “As the games go, you have to be at your best, but then you have to have a short memory and be ready for the next game. It’s a great new challenge, and I’m so proud our guys are going through it together. We’ll just try to do our best every single game.”
On the other hand, Venezuela have had more experience compared to Poland. They were crowned as the champions of the Americas in 2015. Venezuela have also won a pair of South American championships in recent years, in 2014 and 2016. They also qualified for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. Now they are raring to go in the FIBA World Cup after a 13-year absence from the tournament.Embed from Getty Images
They won 9 out of their 12 games in qualifying and impressed thoroughly. Nestor Colmenares is one of their key players, and he averaged 11 points and seven rebounds in their qualifying campaign. Along with Colmenares, Jose Vargas and Heissler Guillent were the only players to play all the qualifying games. They will be hoping to reach the knockout stages after a long absence.
Poland vs Venezuela Prediction
Poland will be the favorites for this one, and they should get the opening win. The ranking suggests otherwise, but Poland should have enough to get the win. The game will be a close one, and the margin of victory will be less than 10 points.