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The 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup gets underway in China on Saturday with a record 32 teams. This year’s format mimics the FIFA World Cup, with eight groups of four teams initially and the top two in each group advancing to the second round. Betting-favorite Team USA brings in their most vulnerable lineup in recent history which just saw their 78-game win streak snapped in a tune-up contest against Australia last week. This, of course, doesn’t include a reported (10 minute) scrimmage loss to a team made up of G-League and overseas players in Los Angeles before they left for Australia a few weeks ago. Even so, it’s no surprise the USA is the heavy betting-favorite led by Kemba Walker and the coaching combo of Greg Popovich and Steve Kerr.
More than any time in recent memory, however, this field is ripe for an upset with international NBA players answering the call to represent their countries. With a total of 92 games played over 16 days, this tournament will feature no shortage of action for those so inclined. Let’s take a deeper look at this year’s field and see where we can find some value.
These odds were taken from FanDuel Sportsbook on August 26, 2019.
Australia – To Win Group H (+125)
Led by all-NBA-grinder Patty Mills, this Australia team outworked Team USA earlier this week beating them 98-94 in an exhibition. Mills is joined by fellow NBA ballers Aron Baynes, Matthew Dellavedova, and Joe Ingles who round out an Aussie roster expected to make a splash over the next two weeks. They did draw the most competitive group featuring both Lithuania (+160) and Canada (+230) but have a great mix of talent and veteran leadership which was on full display in their recent win over the United States. While he’s skipping this tournament, this Australia team has been practicing with 2020 Olympic teammate Ben Simmons, a level of talent few teams here have been able to prepare with. While I think this seasoned team struggles down the stretch as this tournament drags on, I see value in them out of the gates and coming out on top of Group H.
Serbia – To Win World Cup (+380)
After opening up at odds close to double where they presently sit, Serbia brings in a stacked lineup littered with top NBA talent that will undoubtedly challenge Team USA. Surely priced into their odds as well, they’ve been slotted in one of the easier groups of the opening round and should cruise into the knockout rounds with much of their starters having played limited minutes. Denver Nuggets big man Nikola Jokic will be the centerpiece for this Serbian team with Bogdan Bogdanovic and Nemanja Bjelica from the Kings rounding out a very solid rotation. As part of the former Yugoslavia, Serbia is a country of basketball prestige and is currently tied with the United States with five FIBA Basketball World Cup titles. This specific USA team has found no consistency in their lead up to this tournament and has relied heavily on talent alone. Much like Australia, Serbia’s ability to play as a team should expose the Americans in the FIBA World Cup Final, if not sooner.