LAS VEGAS (AP) — USA Basketball opened training camp Monday for the FIBA World Cup, which starts Aug. 31 in China. Here are 10 things to know about the tournament and the Americans’ quest for an unprecedented third gold medal in the event.
WHAT IS IT?
The World Cup is a 32-team tournament running from Aug. 31 through Sept. 15, and used to be called the world championships before a rebranding after the 2010 event.
The 32 teams heading to China qualified for the event over the past couple years, and were randomly drawn into one of eight different four-team groups. The top two finishers in each group will advance to the second round.
WHY THE SWITCH?
World Cups are an every-four-years event, just like the Olympics, except this time, five years have passed between World Cups.
The primary reason for the extra year is because FIBA, basketball’s governing body, wanted to avoid having its World Cup in the same year as FIFA, soccer’s governing body, holds its World Cup for men. So there was no World Cup of basketball in 2018, shifting instead to this year.
WHAT’S AT STAKE?
Besides the World Cup itself, the tournament is a qualifier for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
There are seven teams — two from the Americas, two from Europe and one each from the Africa, Asia and Oceania regions — that will qualify for Tokyo based on their finish at the World Cup. Another four spots will be decided in qualifying in July 2020.
The only spot clinched already for the 12-team bracket in Tokyo is the one that went to Japan, which automatically qualified as host.
China got the only automatic bid, as the tournament host. The Chinese are in Group A, along with Venezuela, Poland and the Ivory Coast.
Other groups are:
Group B: Russia, Argentina, South Korea, Nigeria.
Group C: Spain, Iran, Puerto Rico, Tunisia.
Group D: Angola, Philippines, Italy, Serbia.
Group E: United States, Turkey, Czech Republic, Japan.
Group F: Greece, New Zealand, Brazil, Montenegro.
Group G: Dominican Republic, France, Germany, Jordan.
Group H: Canada, Senegal, Lithuania, Australia.
WHO WILL THE U.S. SEND?
That is still to be determined.
There was a list of 35 players picked in the spring of 2018 as part of the “player pool” for the World Cup and Olympics, and most of those players withdrew from World Cup consideration long ago (though they remain eligible for the Olympic team).
There are 15 national team players in training camp in Las Vegas, and another 14 more “select team” players who can move up. The U.S., winners of the World Cup in 2010 and 2014, will release its 12-man team for China Aug. 17.
IS THE U.S. FAVORED?
Yes, by a wide margin, even with the roster uncertainty. Serbia, which will be led by Nikola Jokic, figures to be a very strong contender at the World Cup. Spain and France should be very good as well, but the Americans, ranked No. 1 in the world by FIBA, will be the team to beat.