31 August, 2019
15 September
Power Rankings: Feels like a repeat of Madrid 2014 and Rio 2016 is on hands
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Power Rankings: Feels like a repeat of Madrid 2014 and Rio 2016 is on the cards

BEIJING (China) - Teams are timing their form with just over two weeks left before the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 begins. Time to check up on them with 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.

Almost all of the teams have started their friendly games, too, 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.


As of August 13, after their game against Turkey, Jordan were 0-6 in their preparation games, including a pair of blowouts to Czech Republic and Poland. The fact that they are in the same group with France and Germany makes their chances of advancing to the sweet sixteen even slimmer.


Contrary to Jordan, Cote d'Ivoire have one win to proudly show to the rest of the world since their training camp for China started. But a one-point triumph over Switzerland doesn't make them feel optimistic about trying to reach the Second Round in a group with Poland, China and Venezuela.


Korea will be a tricky team in Wuhan. But are they trickier than Nigeria? Russia? Argentina? Maybe.


The last time that the FIBA Basketball World Cup was held in Asia, Angola went as far as finishing 9th, back in Japan in 2006. But they will have to go through Serbia, Italy and Philippines if they want to even have a chance to repeat their success 13 years later.


Good news for the Dominican Republic? They have Che Garcia to call the shots from the bench, and having the man who led Venezuela to their finest moments in the period from 2013 to 2017 is more than good news, really.
Bad news? Al Horford and Karl-Anthony Towns are not available. With Germany and France just waiting to inflict some damage in Shenzhen, too...


The first three games that Venezuela played in the training camp will not be remember for a long time. They lost to Russia, Senegal and Italy, while scoring just 59.0 points per contest. They will need more than that to take down Poland and/or the hosts China to advance from Group A.


Senegal are just unlucky to be in the same group with Canada, Lithuania and Australia, that's all.


New Zealand's haka still looks intimidating. And their offense isn't any worse, they managed to score 89 points against Japan in Japan, which isn't the easiest thing in the world. But, they will have to work on their defense, as they also allowed Japan to put up 99 on the scoreboard.


Tunisia are one of the hot-and-cold teams of the summer. Spain, Iran and Puerto Rico will wonder which version of Tunisia will show up in Guangzhou - the one which held Turkey to 64 points, the one which defeated Poland 75-64, or the one which was blown out by 38 by France?


Iran are one of the hot-and-cold teams of the summer. Spain, Tunisia and Puerto Rico will wonder which version of Iran will show up in Guangzhou - the one which defeated Russia 91-84 in Moscow, the one which defeated Hungary by scoring 90 again, or the one which was blown out by 30 by Greece?


Rui Hachimura as the top scorer of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019? I guess New Zealand would say yes to that, after witnessing him put up 35 points on 13-of-17 shooting from the field... But Japan still need to show they are stronger than both Czech Republic and Turkey if they want to advance. Because the remaining team in their group is that one led by Gregg Popovich...


Czech Republic are at 3-0 to start their preparation games, and have three more games coming up in Hamburg, Germany, which could give us just a bit clearer picture about their overall capabilities. Maybe then we put them ahead of Turkey in the battle for the Second Round.


Montenegro will have one of the most powerful frontcourt duos in Bojan Dubljevic and Nikola Vucevic. With Greece looking like the clear favorites to win this group, it could come down to Zvezdan Mitrovic v Aco Petrovic in Montenegro v Brazil, and the idea of it makes us want to fast forward straight to September 5, because Zvezdan and Aco will deliver both on the court and after the game, being as media friendly as coaches get. Write it down in your calendar. Now.


Philippines are still warming up, their defeat to DR Congo in Spain wasn't expected, but they made up for it with a 10-point win over Cote d'Ivoire the next day, powered by Andray Blatche's 18 points and 18 rebounds. They will need such numbers from their leader against Serbia and especially against Italy to book one of the top two spots and advance to the Second Round of competition in China.


Russia lost Alexey Shved with 18 days left to go. That's a tough blow for any team, even tougher when you consider that group rivals Argentina and Nigeria are looking A-OK so far this summer. Big games coming up against Finland and Lithuania this week, time to see what Sergey Bazarevich came up with in a Shved-less outcome.


I told you in the intro to this that we had to take somebody out of the Lithuania-Australia-Canada trio. And the best part about the Power Rankings is that next week we could have Canada as a medal winner, considering what happens to them, Lithuania and Australia. So realistically, they are most definitely a Top 10 team. But being in the group of death, they could end up being 17th in the end.


Puerto Rico are in a good mood having already won a medal this summer. Their team finished second at the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, losing the Final to Argentina, after beating USA and the Dominican Republic earlier in the competition. Maybe the wave of confidence takes them to the Second Round, in front of Tunisia and Iran, behind Spain in Group C.


The hosts played the NBA Summer League not so long ago, so they will be prepared for the physical component of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019, for sure. China seem like a lock for the Second Round from Group A, but that could be the end of the road for them, because juggernauts like Russia, Argentina and Nigeria are in the group which crosses path with China in the Second Round.


Poland have not been to the FIBA Basketball World Cup since 1967, when they finished fifth, sandwiched between USA in fourth and Argentina in sixth. But it was a 13-team event back then, hard to see Poland repeating their success with 32 nations set to battle it out in China. Also, let's not mention that they lost to Tunisia last weekend, by scoring just 64 points in 40 minutes.


"Experience" doesn't even start to describe this Brazil squad. But that doesn't mean that Marcelinho Huertas, Leandrinho Barbosa and their teammates will play some slow-tempo basketball - in fact, they scored 100+ points in their first two friendlies against Uruguay. Tournament in Villeurbanne, France will be delicious, they've got Argentina, France and Montenegro in back-to-back-to-back games!


Germany have only played one game so far, and they looked outstanding, deleting Sweden 78-46 in Trier, Germany. Dennis Schroder said he is really looking forward to the friendly tournament in Hamburg, where him and his teammates will try and give the home crowd fans something special. That means plenty more of this.


So, if you are an Italian fan, are you excited that your team is capable of blowing out Romania, Cote d'Ivoire, Senegal and Venezuela, or are you worried that they lost the only close game so far, the one against Russia? Winning the games in which they are considered favorites and losing the close ones could get them to Second Round, but they need to finish ahead of Spain or Serbia over there.


Will Cedi Osman and Furkan Korkmaz be the best one-two punch of the entire event in China? Will Turkish size and passion for the national team be enough for them to challenge USA in the First Round of the FIBA Basketball World Cup? Will Melih Mahmutoglu ever miss a three-pointer again? Will Ersan Ilyasova get his second World Cup medal? Will these questions ever end?


I told you in the intro that figuring out the group of death standings, plus the next possible group of death they form with France and Germany (according to these Power Rankings, at least), is a painful job. The ironic part of Lithuania's 1-3 start to the preparation games is that they looked really good in all three of their defeats. But just looking good will not be enough in China.


Are we about to see an African team in the medal hunt? Nigeria's last 15 names in the training camp feature guys like Ike Diogu, Al-Farouq Aminu, Josh Okogie, Stan Okoye, Jordan Nwora, Ekpe Udoh, Michael Eric, Chimezie Metu... With Russia losing their superstar Shved, Nigeria seem like a team that could test Argentina for the first spot in Group B, and then feel confident enough about facing Poland/China/Venezuela/Cote d'Ivoire in the Second Round. Medal hunt not that far away, right? Right.


Pan American Games gold medalists Argentina started the summer the right way. When you consider that Luis Scola is still a perpetuum mobile and that will most likely never change, when you consider that Facundo Campazzo and Nicolas Laprovittola will have their own private battle of who is the better passer, when you consider that they've got the most experienced and the deepest team of all eight in the Group A, Group B part of the draw, Argentina could be en route for another World Cup medal.


I'm googling "time difference to Perth, Australia" because the Boomers are set to play two friendlies against Canada on August 16 and 17. I have a lot of confidence in you, Australia. Don't let me down after I put you ahead of Lithuania, Canada, Senegal, Germany, Dominican Republic and Jordan in your part of the draw.


How will France ever survive the fact that Thomas Huertel will not be with the team in China? They now only have Ntilikina, Maledon, Albicy, Fournier, Lacombe, Luwawu-Cabarrot, De Colo and Okobo in their backcourt rotation - oh, nevermind. The only reason they aren't on the podium in the first Power Rankings is the fact that they could end up in a rendezvous with le monstre Grec* in the Quarter-Finals.
*Greek Freak in French


Can't do Power Rankings of anything without Spain making it at least to the Semi-Finals. It's the first thing that pops up in the Creating the Power Rankings manual.
(That is not a real thing.)


Instead of writing anything up, let's just leave this highlight video of Giannis Antetokounmpo doing his stuff for Greece. Also, to kill this box with way too much hyperlinks, here's our way-too-early MVP vote, which he also leads at this moment.


To any other team in the world, losing Milos Teodosic to an injury would be a devastating blow. To Serbia, it was just a signal to switch through gears and score 95 points against Lithuania in Lithuania. They had 95 against Finland. They had 97 against Borac Cacak. Serbia will find ways to score, which isn't all that surprising with Nikola Jokic, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Nemanja Bjelica and all the others on board for coach Sasha Djordjevic.


No team has ever won three straight FIBA Basketball World Cups. USA have a chance of becoming the first one to do so, and until they show general signs of weakness in actual games leading up to the event in China, they remain the hot favorites to win another title. With Serbia looking good, seems like we could have the same Final like in 2014 and 2016, in the FIBA Basketball World Cup and the Summer Olympics, respectively.

*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 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.