Teams are currently preparing for the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 which begins in China at the end of the month.
The United States of America basketball team are one of those teams in preparation, the team has participated in training camps in Las Vegas and Southern California over the past two weeks before traveling to Australia for a friendly match.
According to the FIBA basketball power rankings, Serbia has now overtaken the U.S.A for first place in the rankings. This hasn’t been due to a drop off from the U.S, it’s more to do with how Serbia has been playing in the lead up to the world cup.
Here’s the full list of the Power Rankings a week out from the FIBA 2019 World Cup.
Soundtrack of the week for Cote d'Ivoire: Hello darkness my old friend... Dropped one place since last week because of stuff that had nothing to do with the actual game on the court.
Soundtrack of the week for Venezuela: Hello darkness my old friend (2017 Disturbed version)... Dropped four places since last week because of stuff that had nothing to do with the actual game on the court.
Jordan are rising two spots because Cote d'Ivoire and Venezuela are having the hardest of times in their preparation for the event. With Jordan being in a group with France, Germany and the Dominican Republic, they will need an upset or two to book a trip towards the sweet 16. A test against Greece this week may give us the answer are they capable of that or not.
Up one place, but still in hiding, Korea have a pair of games against the Czech Republic and Lithuania ahead of the event. Meaning, they could have a huge jump in the final Power Rankings next week, because if they show potential out there, especially against Lithuania, they might just be alive in the battle with Russia and Nigeria to advance.
Angola were 29th last week, and aren't that far away this week. A tournament in China saw them defeat a Croatian national team, but it was a team made of the last two U20 generations of Croatia - and not even the strongest Croatian team made it to China for the World Cup, so defeating U20 selection of a non-World-Cup-participant is not going to scare Serbia, Italy and Philippines.
Rest in peace, Frank Prats. Stay strong, Dominican Republic.
So, how do you slip from 16th to 26th in a week? First, it's a matter of your group opponent rising, and taking you out of the top two in your group in provisional group power rankings, meaning you cannot be in top 16 anymore. Then, it's a matter of you losing to Croatia. Make that, losing to last two U20 teams of Croatia combined. Puerto Rico, snap out of it, please.
Senegal announced their final roster for China five days ago, and it's looking solid, especially with Maurice Ndour, Mo Faye, Hamady Ndiaye, Youssou Ndoye and Babacar Toure on board to get all the boards. But, they still have the same issue as last week - they are stuck in a group with Canada, Lithuania and Australia.
Iran could easily be a part of the sweet 16. But, it seems that Tunisia are just that one bit stronger than them at this moment, the same way it feels that Iran are one bit stronger than Puerto Rico. The way Spain looked in this period, it feels like they will be at 3-0, while Iran, Tunisia and Puerto Rico will battle it out for second spot and a place in the Second Round.
Crna Goro, kapljo vode... Montenegro lost all three of their friendly games in France, but coach Zvezdan Mitrovic said "it went better than expected" and that he got some answers. Also, they will be among the rare teams who will try to avoid run-and-gun and transition basketball, as Mitrovic wants the team to slow it down to five-on-five halfcourt basketball. Not a surprising decision, at all. Down three spots since last week, one for each defeat in France.
The trouble with assessing Japan's power is the fact that they are yet to play against any team not named New Zealand. So let's just keep them at 22, the same place they had last week.
Let's not talk about New Zealand losing 122-88 to Canada, okay? Okay.
Good news for Philippines? June Mar Fajardo, Roger Pogoy and Troy Rosario finally joined the team.
Czech Republic won twice, lost once in the friendly tournament in Germany. Two wins and one defeat in China would take them through to the Second Round, probably. So, just click the crtl+c on what you did against Germany, Poland and Hungary in Hamburg, and ctrl+v to the floor against USA, Turkey and Japan. Copy-paste basketball.
Hopefully, the non-basketball related troubles of Nigeria's are now over. Because off-the-court problems certainly did not help D'Tigers in their preparation for China, and they certainly did not help their Power Rankings, as they fall from 8 to 18 in a week. Russia and Argentina are just waiting for Nigeria to lose focus for a minute or so, they will be there to keep them away from the Second Round. But, if Nigeria figure it out, then Egypt's record for best placed African team* at the World Cup is in danger.
Can we just send Canada on loan to any other group? Please?
Poland are probably enjoying the fact that we went with the actual competition system through these Power Rankings. Because their 0-3 tournament in Germany showed that they aren't a better team than, let's say, Canada, but a favorable draw could and should make Poland a team fit for the Second Round, meaning they should be in the top 16.
Tunisia's average age of their final roster: 32 years old. Number of players younger than 30: two. Which means two things: (1) these guys are loaded with experience, led by Salah Mejri and Michael Roll, (2) these guys played with each other for most of their careers, so they will have chemistry.
China keep on winning and are currently looking like the hottest Group A team. Meaning, they could advance with a 3-0 record, meaning they could challenge Argentina/Russia/Nigeria/Korea for a place in the Quarter-Finals, meaning they could actually be an elite eight team after this is all said and done. Three wins over Puerto Rico, Angola and U20 Croatia are getting them in the right mood with the event approaching.
Italy lost to Greece and Serbia in back-to-back games by a combined 52 points. A two-point defeat to Turkey showed signs of life, but at this rate, they are much closer to protecting their second spot in Group D against Philippines and Angola, than to challenging Serbia for the top, or challenging Spain/Tunisia/Iran/Puerto Rico for a place in the Quarter-Finals. They fall two spots from last week.
Turkey lost to Greece and Serbia in back-to-back games by 29 points. A two-point win over Italy showed signs of life, but at this rate, they are much closer to protecting their second spot in Group E against the Czech Republic and Japan, than to challenging USA for the top, or challenging Greece/Brazil/Montenegro/New Zealand for a place in the Quarter-Finals. They fall two spots from last week.
Germany are 4-0 in their preparation games this summer, with wins of 32, 21, 19 and 8 points. It would be Top 10 worthy, but the hottest opponent they faced in those four was Czech Republic, so let's keep Germany at 11 until they defeat Tunisia and Japan this week, then we'll discuss how far Deutschland can really go.
Brazil's 2-1 tournament against France, Argentina and Montenegro just feels hotter than Germany's 3-0 against Poland, Czech Republic and Hungary. With Kostas Sloukas questionable for Greece, is it time to start discussing the possibility of Brazil being the second best team in Groups E and F? That would mean a place in the Quarter-Finals, you know, the same place they were stopped five years ago.
This is just a cautious number nine spot for Australia. Because they are still stuck in a group with a good-looking Lithuania and a good-looking Canada and cross paths with a good-looking France and a good-looking Germany, so it's not looking good for Australia in terms of easiness of their draw. Two games coming up against USA in Melbourne, in front of 50,000 fans, which could propel them to podium spots in the final Power Rankings next week.
Out of nowhere, here are the Russians, rising from 18 to 8! FIBA EuroBasket 2017 Semi-Finalist enjoyed their time in Finland, despite losing to Lithuania, they defeated the hosts 81-67 behind Sergey Karasev's 18 and Nikita Kurbanov's 15. Don't forget about Andrey Vorontsevich's 9 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, too - and about Nigeria's troubles away from the basketball floor. Russia have all the experience in the world to try and sneak into the Quarter-Finals from the Group A/B part of the draw.
Speaking of Groups A and B, it would be a major surprise if Argentina did not finish the First Round and the Second Round as the best team of all eight over there. The win over Montenegro in France showed they are strong, defeats to Brazil and France aren't embarrassing, ever, and now they've got Japan, Spain and Russia in the last three friendlies to tune everything up before tip-off in Wuhan.
Remember when Lithuania were just 1-3 to start their preparations games? Well, it's ancient history by now. Because Lithuania blew out Finland 87-46 in Finland, then went on to defeat Russia 88-72 without Jonas Valanciunas on the day. While Australia and Canada are playing friendlies before the World Cup, Lithuania are lurking, waiting for their prey to exhaust each other, before inflicting pain and winning the group. Which could help them in the Second Round, too. Which could help them in the Quarter-Finals. Which could get them even higher than number 6 here.
Are Greece still lethal without Kostas Sloukas? Probably, but Giannis and friends are hoping their point guard makes it back in time. But a defeat to Serbia in front of the packed OAKA in Athens could shake up their confidence just a bit, especially with France, Spain, Serbia rising as the World Cup approaches.
"France* are the favorites even against the USA!" That quote came from Aco Petrovic, Brazil head coach, speaking to Sportske Novosti after feeling the might of France in Lyon last week. Les Bleus defeated Argentina, Brazil and Montenegro, sending a message that they are Semi-Finals bound if they keep this up. And they most probably will.
Spain lost to USA, but here's the "power" part of the Power Rankings. Losing to USA in USA in a game where USA shot 11-of-19 from beyond the arc, and losing by single digits - all ingredients to make Spain look better than actually blowing out some non-World-Cup team in a friendly in Spain. Remember, Spain still have the easier part of the draw. Oh, and Ricky Rubio, Juancho Hernangomez, Willy Hernangomez, Marc Gasol, Rudy Fernandez, Sergio Llull - it would take a long time to count how many medals and titles won they've got between them.
Feels weird putting USA to number two. But, this is not really about them falling, it's about the new number one getting rewarded for their performances so far this summer.
When a team
The starting line up’s for both the United States and Serbia have been revealed, for the U.S.A team, Kemba Walker, Donovan Mitchell, Khris Middleton, Jayson Tatum and Brook Lopez. As for Serbia, the new number one team in the power rankings, their starting line up consists of Stefan Jovic, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Nemanja Bjelica, Nikola Jokic and Nikola Milutinov.
The two teams do seem like an even match-up and it will surely be exciting to see when they meet up against each other in the World Cup.