Basketball doesn’t need introduction to sport lovers across the world. NBA has made basketball a household name. The 18th edition of the FIBA Basketball World Cup hopes to piggyback on this popularity to be the biggest ever World Cup. The tournament will kick-off in China from August 31 and will be played till September 15. A record 32 teams, with seven from the Americas, eight from Asia and Oceania, five from Africa and 12 from Europe will battle for top honours. Over 16 days, 92 matches will be played in eight different cities – Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Wuhan, Dongguan, Foshan, Nanjing and Guangzhou.
The participating teams were divided into eight groups back in March and will matchup in the first round of the tournament. The top two teams from each group will then advance to the second round. They will then be pooled with two other teams to form a separate group. The 16 teams will then be divided into eight teams, with the top two of each advanced group moving forward. The knockout phase will then begin with the quarterfinals from September before the Championship match in Beijing on September 15.
Czech Republic and Montenegro will make their first appearance in a World Cup as independent nations, while Poland makes a return to the World Cup for the first time since 1967. There is added incentive for the teams participating in the tournament, as seven countries – two from the Americas, two from Europe and one each from Africa, Asia & Oceania regions – will qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics based on the results in this World Cup. Talking of the teams, all eyes will be on USA, who won the gold medal in the previous edition in 2014, where Serbia won the silver and France won the bronze.
The number of games and the nature of the tournament makes it ideal for those looking for ideal bets. However, it must be noted that the World Cup will be vastly different from the usual NBA and the bets that are placed on that tournament. Unlike the American Championship where the scores tend to oscillate a lot, the World Cup sees measured scores. The last edition of the World Cup averaged 155 points. That means, you need to be aware of placing bets on ‘Under’ even if they are offered at very nice odds. The pics on the difference of points could also be interesting. Last World Cup saw the game raise a notch from the knockouts with an average of 18-point difference observed in those matches. Keep an eye.
You can also look at the teams that are primed to do well, based on strong players from the NBA. The USA start as the heavy favourites thanks to a mix of proven and young performers from the NBA. Keep an eye on Greece, who have the Antetokounmpo brothers led by this NBA season’s MVP Giannis. They will in all probability dominate Group F (Montenegro, Brazil and New Zealand being the other nations) and from there on prime for more upsets. Indeed, Greece were the last team to beat USA in the World Cup, in the 2006 semi-finals.
Another good betting chance comes from Group H comprising Canada, Senegal, Lithuania and Australia. With Canada boasting of strong NBA talent, Senegal coming off from a 10-2 run in the African Qualifiers, Lithuania boasting of a strong forward line and Australia possessing an experienced unit, this group can be a basis for upsets.
USA start as heavy favourites and why not! With names like Harrison Barnes, Kyle Kuzma, Kemba Walker, Donovan Mitchell and PJ Tucker expected to be part of the squad, it will take a big effort from the others to stop them. Nigeria find themselves in Group B along with Russia, Argentina and Korea. The African nation will hope that they can breakthrough on the international scene this year. Al-Farouq Aminu, Ben Uzoh, Chimezie Metu and Johs Okogie all come with NBA experience and make them a dangerous side. With them in the side, Nigeria will surely ask questions from the other teams in the group. Among other sides, keep an eye on Serbia. With Nuggets center Nikola Jokic and Sacramento’s Bogdan Bogdanovic leading the side, they are slotted as second favourites to win the title. They are primed for a podium finish and look the most likely side to challenge USA.