Four of Argentina’s NBA players, Carlos Delfino, Manu Ginobili, Fabricio Oberto and Andres Nocioni, were not on hand when the team squeaked out a bronze medal finish at the FIBA Americas Championship last year. But Luis Scola was, and he sparked the team after some early losses.
Due to some injuries and age, it is unclear who will be present for Argentina in Turkey, but the team is bound to be successful because its players are known for their dedication and commitment to the team. If Nocioni and Ginobili return from injuries and are able to compete alongside Scola, Argentina should be among the best again. Argentina opens the FIBA World Championship against Germany in Kayseri Aug. 28 in what could be one of the most intriguing first-round matchups.
Players expected to play for Serbia, which is fifth in the FIBA World Rankings, include 7-foot center Nenad Krstic, who averaged 13.4 points and 4.8 rebounds at the EuroBasket Championship. Serbia reached the final of EuroBasket, where it was clobbered by Spain, 85-63. Serbia has three players 7 feet or taller expected to compete in Turkey, including 7-1 center Kosta Perovic and 7-foot center Miroslav Raduljica. Serbia also boasts guard Milos Teodosic, who averaged 14.1 points and 5.2 assists at EuroBasket.
Six-foot-8 forward Joe Ingles is emerging as a force for Australia, which is 11th in the FIBA World Rankings. Ingles averaged 19.5 points and four rebounds in Australia’s two games against New Zealand in the FIBA Oceania Championship. Also key for Australia is point guard Pat Mills (Portland Trail Blazers), 6-6 guard/forward Brad Newley, who is recovering from a torn meniscus but is expected to compete in Turkey, and 6-8 center Nathan Jawai, who averaged 17 points and 10 rebounds in the FIBA Oceania Championship.
As a wild-card team with many unproven players, Germany would not seem to stand much of a chance in Turkey. But Germany is No. 7 in the FIBA World Rankings, and guard Heiko Schaffartzik was impressive in the FIBA EuroBasket Championship, where he averaged 12.7 points and 3.8 assists. But the team becomes a lot more dangerous if NBA stars Dirk Nowitzki and Chris Kaman are on board, and it looks like they might be. Nowitzki (Dallas Mavericks) has indicated he’s excited about going to Turkey for the World Championship, and Kaman (Los Angeles Clippers) said if Nowitzki goes, he’ll go, so there is hope for Germany.
The team captured its sixth consecutive FIBA Africa Championship, when it toppled Ivory Coast (Cote d’ Ivoire), 82-72, in the final last year. Forward Carlos Morais led the way for Angola with 21 points and forward Olimpio Cipriano and 6-7 center Joaquim Gomes had 16 points each. The trio is expected to lead the charge in Turkey as well for Angola, an experienced team which carries a world ranking of No. 12 into the FIBA World Championship.
Perhaps the most beleaguered team in the FIBA World Championship, Jordan made it despite having its basketball federation dissolved by the Jordan Olympic Committee. All but one of its players (Zaid Abbass, who plays professionally in China), have been inactive in competition in Jordan. But the team still earned the bronze medal at the FIBA Asia Championship under coach Mario Palma. Leading the way for Jordan, which is 37th in the FIBA World Rankings, is Rasheim Ali Abdul Wright, who averaged 20.7 points in the Asia Championship, Abbass, who averaged 13.8 points and eight rebounds, and Ayman Idais, who averaged 10.9 points and 4.3 rebounds.