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2023 FIBA Men’s Basketball World Cup Group C Preview

The 2023 FIBA Men’s Basketball World Cup will get underway this Friday, August 25, with games being played in the Philippines, Japan, and Indonesia for this year’s event. As is the case at most every international basketball event, Team USA is the heavy favorite at -125 to win it all, but the Americans finished seventh at the 2019 World Cup (where Spain beat Argentina in the finals) and are bringing a young team without much of any international experience, meaning the outcome of this year’s tournament is far from a certainty.

As such, a number of teams have hopes of making a run at the World Cup crown, while plenty of others are looking to take a stride forward with the best result in their country’s recent basketball history. For USA Basketball, their road to redemption starts in Group C, where they are the prohibitive favorites to win the group ahead of Greece, Jordan, and New Zealand (odds via DraftKings).

USA -2500
Greece +900
New Zealand +3500
Jordan +10000

Still, this is a young American team that is still trying to find a rhythm, and will look to use the three group games to get on the same page and try to create more flow for the knockout stage. Behind them in the group is a Greece team without its top superstar, as Giannis Antetokounmpo is taking this World Cup off, and New Zealand and Jordan battling for a knockout stage berth.

Here we’ll look at some players to watch, the biggest game, and the full schedule for Group B.

Players to Watch

Georgios Papagiannis (Greece): Most American basketball fans will remember Papagiannis as having a very brief and unspectacular NBA career with the Sacramento Kings, but since returning to Greece he’s regained the form that made him an intriguing prospect years ago. In three games with the national squad in qualifiers, Papagiannis averaged 16.3 points and 7.7 rebounds per game on 71 percent shooting. Against Team USA in tune-up play, Papagiannis had 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting and figures to play a prominent role for the Greek side, with the other familiar name on the roster to NBA fans being Thanasis Antetokounmpo.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (Jordan): Like Kyle Anderson on China, not many would’ve expected to find Hollis-Jefferson on Jordan’s national team, but he will be the most (and probably only) recognizable name for NBA fans tuning in to the World Cup and watching Jordan. Hollis-Jefferson has played all over since last appearing in the NBA in 2021, but was not part of the roster for qualifiers. Still, one would think he will be a focal point for the team and will look to help Jordan to a stunning run to the knockout round.

Finn Delany (New Zealand): Delany has led New Zealand in scoring in three of their four tune-up games against China, Canada, and Italy. The 6’7 forward gives the Tall Blacks (which, as an aside is an incredible nickname for a national team) some floor-spacing from the frontcourt, having shot 37.6 percent from three last season in his first year playing in Germany’s top league. There aren’t any NBA names on New Zealand’s squad for the World Cup, but Delany is among the names you’re likely to hear most when the Tall Blacks are in action.

Jalen Brunson (USA): Early on it’s looked like the top two players for Team USA are going to be Anthony Edwards and Jaren Jackson Jr., with Edwards taking on the role of lead scorer and Jackson as the defensive anchor. However, if the Americans are going to avoid a similar fate to a few years ago, they’re going to need others to step up around them. It is clear that Steve Kerr holds Jalen Brunson in high regard, talking about him being a natural leader and, thus, handing him the keys as the starting point guard for Team USA. However, Brunson has some serious competition for that spot with Tyrese Haliburton playing very well in exhibition play and there will be plenty of eyes on how Kerr handles the point guard rotation. In their tune-up against Spain, Brunson was terrific, scoring 23 points and leading the offense, but we saw against Germany how the starting unit could get bogged down at times in the halfcourt. It’ll be incumbent on Brunson to keep things humming along with that group, because if not, there will be plenty of pressure from the outside for there to be a lineup change.

Brandon Ingram (USA): On the wing, Brandon Ingram is the player who could be another dynamic scoring option alongside Edwards, but to this point he hasn’t quite found his stride in tune-up play. Given there’s not a ton of competition in Group C, group play should provide an opportunity to try and get guys like Ingram going and help them find their comfort level on the team. His skillset as a shot-maker is something they’ll want to be able to lean on down the road against stiffer competition, but they need him in rhythm to be able to do so. If he can’t find that level of comfort, we might see Kerr have to shake up the lineups to go with some of the more complementary wings who don’t need the ball in their hands as much to get a bit more flow into the offense.

Schedule/TV Info (all times EST)

Aug. 26
Jordan vs. Greece, 4:00 a.m., ESPN+
USA vs. New Zealand, 8:00 a.m., ESPN2

Aug. 28
New Zealand vs. Jordan, 4:30 a.m., ESPN+
Greece vs. USA, 8:00 a.m., ESPN2

Aug. 30
USA vs. Jordan, 4:30 a.m., ESPN2
Greece vs. New Zealand, 8:30 a.m., ESPN+

Game to Watch

Greece vs. New Zealand: There isn’t supposed to be a real stern test for the Americans in this group considering they beat Greece by 22 in exhibition play this month, but the final game of the group figures to be a play-in opportunity to the knockout rounds. Greece will be favored as the bigger squad and with New Zealand having some defensive woes in their tune-up action, but if the Tall Blacks can find it from three-point range on August 30 they can make things interesting.