FIBA World Cup 2014 Preview: Peek into Greatness
By Pio Garcia, Unblogged Sports Updated Monday August 25, 2014 - 1:46pm

August 30 is almost upon us and our triumphant return to the world stage of basketball. What awaits us is uncertainty, with our coach promising to give the country something to be proud of but toning down expectations to a minimum. What else can we expect anyway?

Success isn't done overnight they say. But you take baby steps along the way. This counts as one more baby step. We mark our return first by rising as a basketball power in the Asian region, not as chronic underachievers we once were. Here at Star Sports Hub, we give you a look into the teams being fielded by the other world powers. Well, then, let's begin this parade of flags starting with Group A.


The Samba boys from Latin America are probably bringing the oldest team to the World Cup of basketball. They only have three players who are in their 20s and out of those three, two are on the wrong side of 25. You can say they have the most experienced team in Seville, but the injury bug has been looming over Anderson Varejao since he stepped to the NBA. Tiago Splitter would probably be the one tasked to lead this team as he was one of its many stars in competitions of yore. Leandro Barbosa is still deadly in international competitions with his speed and outside shooting. Varejao should be able to hold himself up to at least provide cover for Splitter in protecting the rim. And yeah, we can't dispense the afro.


To Filipino basketball fans, not much is known about Egypt. But they have been a longtime basketball power in the Middle East along with India. One of their pool players has Division I pedigree in Omar Oraby a 7'2" South Carolina Trojan project. The Egyptians are one of the teams that will have a problem matching up with their group mates in terms of verticality as they are mostly comprised of 6'2" and 6'4" guards and forwards whereas France and Brazil boast of incredible size especially at the wings and in the shaded lane.


Les Bleus may be lacking their middle (Joakim Noah) and engine (Tony Parker). But that doesn't diminish the fight in the French. Leading them in this World Cup campaign is the Portland Trailblazers' do-it-all forward Nic Batum. Recently Japeth Aguilar plastered-Ian Mahinmi will man the middle for the Les Bleus, with Utah Jazz project Rudy Gobert backing him up, while Evan Fournier is expected to provide fireworks from the outside along with Florent Pietrus. They boast of a nice mix of young blood with veteran presences.


Our perennial tormentors are probably in what we call the Group of Death with France, Brazil, Spain and Serbia. Chances are they won't get out of the group either. Hamed Haddadi, for all his towering presence, is just that, a tower, nothing else. When he's up against the Gasols, Serge Ibaka and even Nenad Krstic, the world will see that there's nothing special with him besides being a lamp post. The bright spot for the Iranians is of course, their chief gunner Sammad Nikkhah Bahrami. He's a bad man and when he's hot, he's damn hot.


Gone are the Divacs, the Petrovics, the Stojakovics. Serbia is no longer the basketball power it once was. However, they still have a nice back court comprising of Bogdan Bogdanovic and Nemanja Nedovic. Both have NBA experience and should be raring to show their wares as an audition to their mother clubs. Nenad Krstic, the volatile Serbian big, will be patrolling the shaded lanes along with a slew of big men who can step out and drain jump shots.


The hosts probably boast the deepest and most talented lineup this side of the United States. They are rotating Jose Calderon, Ricky Rubio and Sergio Lull at the point guard spot. Then they boast of Rudy Fernandez, Juan Carlos "La Bomba" Navarro, Victor Claver and Alex Abrines at the wings. And up front, oh mama, the Gasols, Ibaka and Felipe Reyes. If that is not yet deep enough of a roster, we don't know what is. It is pretty scary since even if the world knows Pau Gasol will be the focal point of the Spanish offensive, he has cannons on the wings in Fernandez and Navarro. Calderon can hit outside shots too and may get the bulk of the playing minutes before the shot-less Rubio.

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Greece 4 0
Argentina 3 1
Senegal 2 3
Croatia 2 2
Philippines 1 4
Puerto Rico 1 3


Saturday, August 30, 2014
10:30 GMT
Croatia vs Philippines
Sunday, August 31, 2014
18:00 GMT
Philippines vs Greece
Monday, September 1, 2014
15:30 GMT
Argentina vs Philippines
Wednesday, September 3, 2014
11:30 GMT
Philippines vs Puerto Rico
Thursday, September 4, 2014
12:00 GMT
Senegal vs Philippines
1 USA 940.0
2 Spain 885.0
3 Argentina 490.0
4 Lithuania 432.0
5 Greece 376.0
6 Turkey 294.0