31 August, 2019
15 September
FIBA Basketball World Cup Power Rankings, Volume 3
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FIBA Basketball World Cup Power Rankings, Volume 3

BEIJING (China) - Teams are timing their form with just a couple of days left before the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 begins. Time to check up on them with the third edition of our Power Rankings.

The formula stays the same as in the actual competition, meaning we went through the possible scenarios in the First Round of the Group Phase, then the Second Round of the Group Phase, and the entire Final Phase. In theory, that means that, let's say, Canada, Australia and Lithuania cannot all be among the Top 16 because only two of them will actually advance from Group H.

In case this all feels familiar to you, it is because it was also explained in the first Power Rankings two weeks ago. Or, if you missed Volume 1, you probably read about this in Volume 2.

Most of the teams have finished their friendly games, which gave us something to work with in terms of their current form. You can keep track of all the scores in our preparation games tracker.


Cote d'Ivoire did not have a preparation camp to remember, let's just keep it at that, okay? Okay. They seem like the weakest of four Group A teams heading into the event.


Angola's 9th place finish in 2006 seems like a distant memory by now. They will be opening up the tournament, playing the 15:30 (GMT+08) game against Serbia in Foshan, so they will have no time to warm up. They have to be in sixth gear as soon as the FIBA Basketball World Cup tips off.


Not sure what kind of positives Puerto Rico can draw out from their last two preparation games played in China, because they lost to Turkey by 72-64 (okay) and to Senegal by 90-61 (ouch!) in Suzhou.


Dominican Republic can actually feel happy about the last week of their preparation camp. They defeated China 87-72 and were hanging on to a one-point deficit in the fourth quarter against Greece, but lost by 12 at the end. So, why are they down in 29th then? Because they still don't feel like a stronger team than France and Germany, their group rivals.


Instead of writing anything about Jordan's win over China the other day, I'm just here to remind you that Ahmad Al-Dwairi is the guy you know as Ahmet Duverioglu from Fenerbahce Beko. He was born in Istanbul, but his father is Jordanian, and Ahmad grew up with Zain, Al Riyad and ASU teams in Jordan, winning two Jordanian League titles. There you go.


Korea have a mission of their own in Wuhan. They are on a 10-game losing streak in FIBA Basketball World Cups, but with Russia, Nigeria and Argentina in their group, it doesn't seem like an easy task. Ra GunA's 29 points against Czech Republic in the last friendly is a good sign, though.


After all the troubles in getting to China, Venezuela showed up, both literally and figuratively speaking, in Suzhou. They defeated Senegal with ease, and then upset Turkey, too! Maybe the FIBA AmeriCup 2015 winners find something to disturb Poland and China's chances of advancing in Group A.


Iran's last win in the preparation period came in early August, away to Russia, so maybe they forgot the feeling of winning? Maybe. They will need to refresh their memory, because Tunisia and Spain - their main group rivals - are rising in form as the tournament approaches.


Senegal will probably feel good about the fact that they connected back-to-back wins over Jordan and Puerto Rico, because connecting back-to-back wins would almost certainly put them through to the next phase of competition in China. Trouble is, they will not be playing Jordan nor Puerto Rico in their group. They are up against Australia, Lithuania and Canada. That's why they cannot be higher than 24 in these Power Rankings.


Bad taste of an 0-3 tournament in France got even more bitter as Nigeria defeated Montenegro, too. A win over Poland is fine for Montenegro, but right now they aren't looking like a team capable of testing Brazil and Greece. In fact, if Nikola Ivanovic's injury turns out to be a problem, then Montenegro are in danger of finishing the First Round at 0-3...


...because New Zealand are also in fine form. They forced OT against Canada, they defeated Italy, they played a close one for three quarters against France, showing more power than Montenegro, which is why they are ranked ahead of them right now in the rankings of power. But, this is still not the level of power of Brazil and Greece.


Congratulations to Lithuania and Germany! Those are the only two teams which held Czech Republic to less than 80 points in a game during the preparation period, Germany (68) being the more effective than Lithuania (79) in that battle. But...are USA, Japan and Turkey really teams you want to run-and-gun against? If it works, perfect, it will show why Czech Republic are really a likable team. But if it doesn't, they could be looking down the barrel of a gun.


Russia were in the Top 10 last week because of their good display in a tournament in Finland...but mostly because Nigeria, Korea, Poland, Venezuela and Cote d'Ivoire had their own set of problems, which made Russia a legit contender for the number two spot from Groups A and B, effectively sending them to the Top 8. However, a 21-point defeat to Argentina, their group rivals in Wuhan, will keep us a bit more timid about predicting a Quarter-Finals appearance for Sergey Bazarevich's boys.


Japan were the first team to defeat Germany this summer. That's all you need to know about their seriousness. Pull that off against Czech Republic and Turkey, and poof - you are in the last 16!


Italy are slumping, Andray Blatche is putting up games of 19 points, 18 rebounds and 9 assists, Philippines finally have their full lineup ready...so why are they only 18th here? Well, because they too slumped a bit in their preparation games, losing to DR Congo and Adelaide 36ers. Don't need me to tell you that DR Congo and Adelaide are not at the World Cup.


Still the same problem as with the previous Power Rankings for Canada. If we don't count in the competition system, Canada are a legit Top 10 team, possibly a Top 5 team. But with the system calculated in here, they aren't ranked in power ahead of group rivals Lithuania and Australia, which means they cannot advance in this little table, which means they cannot be ranked higher than 16 in this little table, even though they are definitely stronger than some of the top 16 teams in this little table.


Read the Canada part again. Just as Canada appear to be stronger than a lot of sweet 16 teams, Poland appear to be weaker than some of the teams behind them, because a 3-7 record during the training camp will not scare anybody. But on a good day, Poland are still a team way too good for Venezuela and Cote d'Ivoire in Group A, which is enough to see them through to the Second Round and to (at least) 16th spot at the end.


Italy after Ferragosto**: "We are still good enough to advance from First Round, right. Right? RIGHT!?"
*Italy went 4-1 before August 15.
**Italy went 0-6 since August 15.


Salah Mejri is now a three-point shooter. Michael Roll always scores after he rolls (pun intended) on the left side of the court, even at the buzzer, for the win against Japan. Tunisia looking good, about to make the Second Round with the way they have been clicking in the preparation period.


If we judged solely on their training camps, China would be Group A winners for sure, and would be in with a legit chance of making the elite eight phase with a pair of games against Argentina/Russia/Nigeria/Korea in the Second Round. Now it's up to them to show us that hosting an event like this is a) just a huge amount of pressure; b) always a big advantage, because your fans give you strength when you thought you had none; c) rewarding because you barely traveled during the training camp or; d) all of the above.


I'll let you in on a secret. That defeat to Japan, that was all a part of Germany's master plan. Because while everybody is talking about France, Australia, Lithuania and Canada in that part of the draw, Die Mannschaft are enjoying the view from the back, waiting for everybody to forget about them, before pulling off a run for the ages and winning the whole thing! Defeat to Japan was there just to fool the opponent.


One of the hottest teams of the preparation period, Turkey lost only to Serbia and Greece in Athens, and have wins over France and Italy to their name. They are the front-runner to finish runner-up to USA in Group E, which is a bit troubling because the chances of advancing at 3-0 with USA in your group are slim to none, which is a bit troubling because your chances of advancing from the Second Round get even slim-to-none-er*. But, Osman, Korkmaz, Ilyasova, Wilbekin, Mahmutoglu... This will be a fun team to watch no matter what. Don't worry about the 71-68 defeat to Venezuela, Ilyasova and Wilbekin did not play in that one.
*I know it's not a real word.


Two wins against China in China just fortified Brazil's case as a juggernaut in Group F. They will play one more preparation game against a local club here in China, but behind closed doors, which is okay, because we already know they are a force and nobody will have fun playing against these guys. Top 10 team for sure, and they probably aren't too happy about it, because they know they are capable of finishing higher than Argentina and/or USA here, searching for a ticket to the Olympics.


I hate the fact that Group H is so loaded and I hate the fact that Group L is so loaded and I hate the fact that we opted to use the Competition System to determine the Power Rankings and I hate the fact that we can't have Lithuania, France and Australia in the Quarter-Finals together. Sorry Lithuania. But your group rivals just defeated USA, so this drop in rankings has nothing to do with you, it has a lot to do with other rising and you are just caught in their dirt right now...


Argentina are dropping a place just because Facundo Campazzo rolled his ankle and is in recovery mode with just hours to go before the FIBA Basketball World Cup begins. That's all.


They are back in the Top 10! Nigeria specialized in comebacks this week, because they came back from -22 against Poland, and from -13 against Montenegro, and from -11 in this Power Rankings, fittingly. They have also defeated Dominican Republic and Canada in the build up to the summit in China, losing only to Canada in the process. Another reminder that the best ever finish by an African team was in 1950, when Egypt won 5th spot.


Greece only lost to Serbia during the preparation period, but their biggest loss was the injury of Kostas Sloukas. Hang on... Sloukas making a comeback? Is that what the winking emoji is saying? Don't play with us, Kostas. If you are healthy and back to 100 percent, Greece could be lifting the cup by the end of the competition!


If France win everything from the start of the competition to the end of the Second Round, they could be "rewarded" with a Quarter-Final against Greece and a Semi-Final against Serbia. If they lose one game from the start of the competition to the end of the Second Round, they could be "rewarded" with a Quarter-Final date with USA. They've got to have "to be the best, you've got to beat the best" mentality from day one then...


A win over Argentina with Marc Gasol sitting out the game, that sounds so good for Spain because (1) they won, (2) they won without Marc, (3) they still have so many tricks up the sleeve for a potential rematch with Argentina in the Quarter-Finals in China. Because that's where this bracket takes them. Meaning they are favorites to reach the Final Four, again.


Australia defeated USA. I've got nothing to add to that. Probably should've put them at #1!
(Okay, definitely not, because USA also beat them in their back-to-back duels.)
(Oh, and nobody defeated Serbia since... February. Tough competition.)


Don't you hate it when you win like ten thousand games in a row*, and then everybody goes mad and says "your time has passed, mate" when you lose once? Against an opponent you defeated by 16 points just 48 hours earlier? USA are still the team that everybody will try to avoid in China. Maybe that defeat to Australia was just another Coach Popovich trick so opponents actually start taking USA for granted in China. And that's a huge no-no.
*May be an exaggeration.


Must be good to be Estonia these days, huh? Because Estonia managed what Israel, Borac Cacak, Finland, Lithuania twice, Turkey, Italy twice, Greece, New Zealand and France failed to do against Serbia - they won. Back in February, in the European Qualifiers, 71-70. That was a long time ago, Serbia are on an 11-game winning streak since, peaking at the right moment, getting to China in a good mood. And they open up the tournament against Angola.
You know what happened when Yugoslavia opened up the tournament against Angola in 2002, right?
Lifting the cup happened, that's what happened! 

*The power rankings are entirely subjective and is in no way a true, accurate ranking systems. All comments are purely those of the author.

Igor Curkovic

Igor Curkovic

Igor Curkovic is a Croatian freelance writer, Live Blog aficionado and meme expert who watches a lot of basketball and brings both the power and the rankings to the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Power Rankings.