Hosts China will play Ivory Coast in their first FIBA World Cup game at the Wukesong Sports Arena in Beijing
Aside from China and Ivory Coast, Poland and Venezuela are the other two teams in Group A. Venezuela are the highest ranked team as they are ranked 20th in the world. This group is arguably a fairly distributed one, and all four sides will be hopeful of getting to the next stage. Ivory Coast will find it the hardest, at least according to the rankings. They are ranked 64th in the world heading into the tournament.
China missed the last World Cup, but they will take part this time as they are the hosts. Their best performance at the tournament came back in 1994 when they finished 8th. However, they have dominated the FIBA Asia Cup to a great extent. They won it in 2015 and finished 5th in 2017. In the 2018 Asian Games China secured the gold medal. They have done that three times in the last four Asian Games.Embed from Getty Images
Yi Jianlian will lead the Chinese squad. Yi is an experienced player at the age of 31, and he has represented his country four times at the Olympic Games. “I wish our team will have great a mindset and have unity,” he said recently. “We’ll give all and contribute our best to prepare for this World Cup.” The best Asian team at the World Cup will take part in the 2020 Olympic Games. China will be hoping to be the Asian side who does that.
They will come up against a relatively low-profile side in their opening game in the form of Ivory Coast. They have made it to just three World Cups in their history. Two of those came before the turn of the millennium. Ivory Coast’s last World Cup appearance came in 2010 when they finished 21st in Turkey. They failed to qualify for the previous edition of the tournament.Embed from Getty Images
The qualification process was a close call for the Ivory Coast. They failed to finish in the top two in their group in the second round. The only other route was ending as the best third-placed team, which they managed to do. They were tied with Cameroon on points but had a higher overall point difference which sent them through.
Their record at the African games has been decent, and they finished 7th in the last edition in 2015. Their best finish at a World Cup is 13th, which they achieved in their first appearance back in 1982. Bettering that record will be a considerable achievement for Ivory Coast.
Ivory Coast vs China Prediction
China will go into the game as the favorites to get the opening win. Ivory Coast have very less experience compared to China, and the host nation should get the win. China should score more than 70 points in the game, and the point difference of the victory should be more than 15 points.