Published: Sun, March 17, 2019
Sports | By Johanna Francis

US launch Basketball World Cup defense against Czechs

US launch Basketball World Cup defense against Czechs

The toughest group, on paper, looks to be Group H where No. 6 Lithuania, No. 11 Australia, No. 23 Canada and No. 37 Senegal will vie for two spots in the second round. The tournament begins in China on August 31st.

Many players aren't expected to decide one way or another until after the National Basketball Association season. Our world ranking consistently puts us in amongst the world's best teams, but basketball is one of the true global sports, with anyone in the top 50 or 60 capable of beating a top ten team on their day. "Obviously, you've got the National Basketball Association and you have winning a championship and all that good stuff, but with this, you're not just playing for your respective cities or where you're from, you're playing for an entire country you represent", said Harden.

France, ranked third in the world behind top-rated U.S. and then Spain, are in Group G with the Dominican Republic, Jordan and European rivals Germany.

The top two from each group will go into the second round in China.

The highest ranked team from Oceania at the World Cup will book a berth at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Former NBA and Team USA star Kobe Bryant, now a World Cup ambassador, told the draw ceremony: "The USA has some really stiff competition".

Greece topped a super-group including Serbia and Germany in the World Cup qualifiers. "So, it's pretty awesome to be a part of it".

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"We'll face three well-coached teams and a variety of playing styles", Popovich said.

"I believe it is going to be a great, competitive tournament", said the 40-year-old, who was given a rousing reception from the 8,000 crowd at the draw and had his name chanted on several occasions.

Second-ranked Spain will meet Puerto Rico, Iran and Tunisia in the group stage.

"You might say we have been better in those situations, when no one expects us to do well, we love to be in the fight as an underdog".

Group A: Venezuela, Poland, China and Ivory Coast.

"It's a greater sense of honour to be playing for your country", Bryant said.

Should New Zealand progress from Group play, they will cross over with Group E, those teams being USA, Turkey, Czech Republic and Japan.

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