Suns guard Goran Dragic and draft pick Bogdan Bogdanovic begin their national team runs in the 2014 FIBA World Cup on Saturday, where they will play five games of round-robin play in their respective groups. Here’s what to know about each team and what you need to know to follow the tournament.
The 24-team tournament begins with group play. Four groups of six teams each will play round-robin style over the next week to eliminate the two worst squads. That will lead to a 16-team, single-elimination tournament that will only have a loser’s bracket for the third-place team. Here’s how the scoring works for group play:
1. Highest number of points earned, with each game result having a corresponding point:
- Win: 2 points
- Loss: 1 point
- Loss by default: 1 point, with a final score of 2–0 for the opponents of the defaulting team if the latter team is not trailing or if the score is tied, or the score at the time of stoppage if they are trailing.
- Loss by forfeit: 0 points, with a final score of 20–0 for the opponents of the forfeiting team.
2. Head-to-head record via points system above
3.Goal average on games among tied teams
4. Goal average on all group games
5. Drawing of lots
Dragic is a rockstar in Slovenia for a reason. He’s by far their best player, though younger brother Zoran has played well at shooting guard and forward Uros Slokar was once a second-round NBA draft pick. Of the 24 teams in the tournament, Slovenia could be considered a borderline top-10 squad thanks to its feistiness and Dragic’s contributions.
What’s the group like?: Slovenia is in a relatively favorable group. Arguably it is the second-best team behind Lithuania, which could contend for a medal but won’t be playing with former NBA forward Linas Kleiza, who pushed the team to a silver finish in last year’s EuroBasket. The Lithuanians still have Rockets forward Donatas Motiejunas and Raptors big man Jonas Valanciunas on their team.
Australia is also a threat to Slovenia; a matchup between the Dragic brothers and Dante Exum will be compelling. Mexico and NBA big man Gustavo Ayon should be a fourth team in.
August 30 vs. Australia
August 31 vs. Mexico
September 1 vs. Korea
September 3 vs. Angola
September 4 vs. Lithuania
Bogdanovic, Phoenix’s 27th pick in the 2014 draft, will start at shooting guard on a roster that won’t have room for mistakes. Serbia could be fighting for the fourth-place slot and can’t flop to move on to the elimination tournament. Bogdanovic is joined by center Miroslav Raduljica, who this week was traded from the Bucks to the Clippers in the Jared Dudley salary dump deal.
What’s the group like?: Though it’s been a traditional power, nothing will be easy for Serbia in the group stage. Group A has been labeled the basketball version of the 2014 FIFA World Cup’s group of death considering Team USA’s main challenger, Spain, is joined by EuroBasket winner France and South American powerhouse Brazil. Iran and Egypt close out the group.
Obviously, there’s a wealth of NBA talent Bogdanovic will face. France doesn’t have Tony Parker but will run out Nicolas Batum, Evan Fournier, Boris Diaw, Rudy Gobert and Ian Mahinmi. Spain has Ricky Rubio, Jose Calderon, the Gasol brothers, Serge Ibaka and Victor Claver. They also have a few guards who have NBA experience in Juan Carlos Navarro and Sergio Rodriguez.
Brazil will have the familiar faces of Leandro Barbosa, Tiago Splitter, Anderson Varejao and Nene. Iran features former Suns center Hamed Haddadi in addition to former Oregon and Rice forward Arsalan Kazemi.
August 30 vs. Egypt
August 31 vs. France
September 1 vs. Iran
September 3 vs. Brazil
September 4 vs. Spain
2014 FIBA World Cup top-10 ratings (by ESPN Insider Kevin Pelton)
**This is based upon exhibition games this summer, the most accurate way to project competitiveness considering their rosters change year-to-year.