The 2010 FIBA Men’s Basketball World Championship begins tomorrow in Turkey. Ordinarily, Basketball Prospectus would provide coverage as we did for men’s hoops in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, but the timing could not be worse with Bradford Doolittle and I cranking away on Pro Basketball Prospectus 2010-11, which is already consuming whatever free time I have left after covering the WNBA Playoffs.
Fortunately, there’s plenty of great coverage out there. In particular, I’d recommend friends of BBP The Painted Area, which always does a fabulous job of covering the international scene. Start with M. Haubs’ overview and follow along to Jay Aych’s breakdowns of each of the four groups. Tom Ziller of Fanhouse.com is keeping a watchful eye on the World Championship and will be covering it along with Bethlehem Shoals in The Works. (Note that where The Painted Area has Spain as favorite to defend its 2006 World Championship, Ziller likes the U.S. The two teams are likely to meet in the semifinals.) Also, The Basketball Jones has promised daily recaps and NBA.com’s John Schuhmann will provide on-the-scene coverage grounded in an understanding of statistical analysis.
My own personal sense, from what I’ve seen of the U.S. team and know of its competition, is that a pressure-heavy defense like the USA’s undersized personnel almost demands is likely to work well in the group stages but falter against opponents of equal ability. I see a string of blowouts in group play, with Brazil most likely to challenge the U.S. in Group B. That may last all the way until the semifinals, when Spain has the ballhandling ability to force the USA into a half-court game and the size to create problems on the interior.
As Chris Tomasson pointed out at Fanhouse.com yesterday, winning the World Championship may take on extra importance for the U.S. because of the possibility of an NBA lockout next summer. It’s premature to get too gloomy about the prospects for a possible USA appearance in next summer’s FIBA Americas Championship, but it could be a long summer for USA Basketball in 2012 if the team is forced to play in the pre-Olympic qualifying tournament to earn its spot.