Who will defeat the US basketball players: This question arises before every World Cup, and it is the same this time. The team of head coach Steve Kerr is the clear favorite despite a personal bloodletting. But the field of title contenders is large, national coach Gordon Herbert sees up to ten medal candidates. An overview:
The Olympic champion
In basketball, the World Cup is nowhere near as important as it is in other sports. The main thing that counts for the US national team is the Olympic gold medal, which has been won seven out of eight times since 1992. At the World Cup, on the other hand, since 1998 the winners have been Yugoslavia, Spain and the USA twice. Stars like Stephen Curry or Kevin Durant are not there this time, but a young, talented troupe that was put together with a sense of proportion. Big bonus for the favourite: You are in the much easier half of the tournament and can only meet many opponents in the semifinals at the earliest.
The world and European champion
For example, on the toughest competitor Spain, which has to overcome much tougher hurdles before a possible showdown. Two very strong rivals are already waiting in France and Canada in the intermediate round. Former World Cup hero Ricky Rubio is absent but the Spaniards have rarely depended on individual players. Also the farewell of the Gasol brothers Marc and Pau, because they have found a new duo. If the two Hernangomez brothers Willy and Juancho confirm the EM form from the previous year, a lot is possible.
France should be ready for a medal even without super talent Victor Wembanyama. A lot will depend on the first group game against Canada for the team around center Rudy Gobert and wing Evan Fournier. Slovenia is pinning all its hopes on NBA star Luka Doncic, who is considered the best individual player at the World Cup. Germany's strong and well-rehearsed collective is led by point guard Dennis Schröder and has had a strong preparation. It is doubtful whether Greece and Serbia can fully replace the serious absences of Giannis Antetokounmpo and Nikola Jokic.
Teams with NBA experience
Australia has made a name for itself in recent years. Olympic bronze in Tokyo, fourth place in the 2019 World Cup in China: thanks to a few players from the NBA, the team around playmaker Patty Mills can keep up with the absolute world elite. That's also true this year for the Canadians, who are led by star player Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. The home country of the German national coach Herbert should also play a role in the medal fight without Denver professional Jamal Murray. However, from the trio of France, Spain and Canada, only a maximum of two teams make it to the quarter-finals. There, in turn, duels with Slovenia, Australia or Germany await.