Only 3 days until the Basketball World Cup tips off. Here’s five things Sportsfreak thinks you should keep your eye out for over the next few weeks.
Yes, we really wrote that. The process to become a FIBA qualified referee is long and hard and like the players, the World Cup is the Whistlemen (and Women’s) ‘Holy Grail’ for all this effort. You won’t see any blind guessing, home-town calls or out-and-out lack of knowledge of the rules that often occurs in local leagues around the world – just pure good quality, consistent officiating. This will in turn raise the standard of the games above anything seen outside of the NBA Finals.
Spain and the USA
Spain (with home court) and USA (with a host of NBA talent available to them) are hot favorites to play the final should the draw facilitate this so it will pay to MySky all their games if you want to see pure quality in the early stages. The USA have had a somewhat disrupted build-up with unwanted injuries and media attention calling their participation into question but once these guys suit up in the Red, White & Blue you will likely see something special outside anything other than the NBA finals or the Olympic games. Don’t count out Spain who have a host of grizzled veterans who have been plotting to tip up the States throughout their build-up and have the talent to do so on their day, in their conditions.
The ever-present World Cup “Group of Death”
No World Cup in any major sport would be complete without one and this year’s Basketball version is no exception. Depending on your view, the good thing is the Tall Blacks have been placed right smack, bang right in the middle of it (Group C) and will be dueling with some of the big boys of the world game for a place in the round of 16 (Dominican Republic, Finland, Turkey, the Ukraine and of course the US of A).
A theme in any World Cup and given each country has been stringently avoiding playing anyone else they are involved in pool play with in the build-up games, so some major upsets are definitely on the cards in the early stages. Sportsfreak’s tip is the ageing Turks or Argentinians may be the ones on the receiving end of an early setback putting their place in the Round of 16 at early risk.
Let’s face it, were not coming home with the Gold but keep a close watch on the likes of Mika Vikona not taking one backward step against any of his oversized opponents who make the mistake of trying to bully him, not-to-mention the sight of Corey Webster and Kirk Penney lighting up the floor from three point range at the same time. New Zealand Breakers Swingman Thomas Abercrombie is another who will be fizzing to display his wares to a worldwide audience in an attempt to take his career to the next professional level (Europe appears the logical step in this talented young man’s journey but he needs to produce something special on this stage first).
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