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Group A of the FIBA World Cup projects to be one of the most unpredictable. While Italy has been a perennial contender at the European championships, they've failed to reach the podium at the FIBA World Cup. While Italy doesn't sport one of the most competitive rosters in its history, a combination of experience and youthfulness makes them an exciting team to consider.
Joining Italy in Group A is one of the joint hosts of the tournament, the Philippines. Asia's most basketball-crazed nation, the Philippines, will draw on home-court advantage and rich history at the FIBA World Cup for success. With a youthful roster led by the country's only NBA-level talent, the Philippines aims to beat the odds and advance to the knockout phase.
Rounding out Group A are the Dominican Republic and Angola. Dominican Republic has reached the FIBA World Cup for the third time and will be sporting one of the best rosters in their nation's history. Angola will represent Africa in Group A, who faced Italy and the Philippines in their last World Cup appearance.
25 August 2023: Angola vs Italy (4:00 AM EST)
25 August 2023: Dominican Republic vs Philippines (8:00 AM EST)
27 August 2023: Italy vs Dominican Republic (4:00 AM EST)
27 August 2023: Philippines vs Angola (8:00 AM EST)
29 August 2023: Angola vs Dominican Republic (4:00 AM EST)
29 August 2023: Philippines vs Italy (8:00 AM EST)
Odds taken from FanDuel Sportsbook on August 8th, 2023
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FIBA World Ranking: 10
Odds to win the World Cup: +5500
Odds to win Group A: -146
FIBA World Cup Appearances: 9
FIBA World Cup All-Time Record: 43-31 (.581)
Best World Cup Finish: 4 (1970, 1978)
Head Coach: Gianmarco Pozzecco
Key Players: Simone Fontecchio, Nicolo Melli, Luigi Datome
NBA Players: Simone Fontecchio (UTA)
Italy reached the FIBA World Cup after a rocky start to their qualification campaign. After hiring Gianmarco Pozzecco in the summer of 2022, the Italians found their form behind the performance of Simone Fontecchio as they upset Serbia in the FIBA Eurobasket Quarter-Finals. They booked their spot at the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup after defeating Georgia 85-84 during the November 2022 window.
Italy is the odds-on favorite to win Group A, but they'll have plenty of competition. Despite being perennial contenders in Europe, Italy still needs to reach the FIBA Basketball World Cup podium. Their mix of youthfulness and experience will aid them, with Nicolo Melli and Gigi Datome anchoring an offense led by Simone Fontecchio and Nico Mannion.
We expect Italy to be the top contender to win Group A. Their experience and consistency are something to worry about, and their hot run of form to close out their qualification and exhibition window helps their case. There will be questions about their ability to compete in the paint, but their shooting prowess can compensate.
FIBA World Ranking: 23
Odds to win the World Cup: +9500
Odds to win Group A: +136
FIBA World Cup Appearances: 4
FIBA World Cup All-Time Record: 6-12 (.333)
Best World Cup Finish: 12 (1978)
Head Coach: Nestor "Che" Garcia
Key Players: Karl-Anthony Towns, Chris Duarte, Al Horford, Victor Liz
NBA Players: Karl-Anthony Towns (MIN), Chris Duarte (SAC), Al Horford (BOS)
Dominican Republic shocked the world when they came out as one of the representatives of the Americans at the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup. After losing to Brazil in the Quarter-Finals of the 2022 FIBA AmeriCup, Dominican Republic re-hired Nestor Garcia for their final qualification window. In one of the greatest upsets in FIBA America's history, Dominican Republic overcame a 61-44 deficit to Argentina during the last qualification window to book their spot in the World Cup!
Group A has a clear favorite to win in Italy. Still, after their historic qualification for the FIBA World Cup, Dominican Republic has added some exciting members to its potential roster. While Jean Montero and Victor Liz impressed during the qualification windows, a trio of NBA stars may join the team in August. Chris Duarte and Al Horford are two NBA players who are expected to join the team, and the potential inclusion of Karl-Anthony Towns, who hasn't played for the Dominican Republic since 2012, could change the balance of power in Group A.
At this time, Nestor Garcia still needs to name his final twelve-man roster for the FIBA Basketball World Cup. Mainstays like Vitor Liz and Andres Feliz are expected to stay with the team. Still, the opportunity to bring in three NBA players may define Dominican Republic's chances in the group and at the tournament. Regardless of their makeup, the Dominican Republic projects to compete for second in Group A, but an NBA-calibre injection could make them darkhorse contenders for first.
FIBA World Ranking: 40
Odds to win the World Cup: +20000
Odds to win Group A: +1500
FIBA World Cup Appearances: 7
FIBA World Cup All-Time Record: 13-27 (.325)
Best World Cup Finish: 3 (1954)
Head Coach: Chot Reyes
Key Players: Jordan Clarkson, Kai Sotto, Dwight Ramos
NBA Players: Jordan Clarkson (UTA)
Asia's most decorated country at the FIBA World Cup, the Philippines owns the continent's only medal at the world's top basketball competition. They qualified for their seventh FIBA World Cup through a tumultuous period, where they went through three head coaches, and only one player played more than four qualifier matches. As one of the host nations, the Philippines did not need to qualify through tournament play and used the qualification windows as an evaluation process for their domestic and naturalized talent.
The Philippines still needs to trim their preliminary roster to 12 from 21. Mainstays like June Mar Fajardo, Bobby Ray Parks, and 7'4 big man Kai Sotto are expected to join the squad. However, there's an exciting battle for the naturalized position as Utah Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson, Justin Brownlee, and Ange Kouame hope to represent their country at the World Cup.
Expectations are low for the Philippines, but the host country will aim to capitalize on one of its most talented rosters in recent history. They'll strive to improve on their World Cup performance in 2019, where they fell to Italy and Angola in Group D, two teams who they'll face in Group A this year. The Philippines are expected to compete for third in the group, but home-court advantage and promise around the quality of their roster may be enough to push them into the second knockout phase.
FIBA World Ranking: 41
Odds to win the World Cup: +20000
Odds to win Group A: +5500
FIBA World Cup Appearances: 9
FIBA World Cup All-Time Record: 15-36 (.294)
Best World Cup Finish: 9 (2006)
Head Coach: Josep Claros
Key Players: Bruno Fernando, Childe Dundao, Yanick Moreira
NBA Players: Bruno Fernando (ATL)
Angola is a regular at the FIBA World Cup and enters the 2023 tournament with eyes on qualifying for the second group phase. It took until the February window for Angola to be eligible for the FIBA World Cup. Still, they dominated the qualification process after routing Cape Verde and confirming their position at the FIBA Basketball World Cup.
Head coach Josep Claros has many options for the FIBA World Cup and will have difficulty paring his roster down to 12. Despite his short stature, star guard Childe Dundao will be a favorite as his dynamic play inspired Angola through the February qualification window. They'll also have the services of Atlanta Hawks center Bruno Fernando, who last played for the squad in August 2022. The role players will be critical to Angola's chances, and finding places for Silvio De Sousa and Yannick Moreira would boost their chances despite their longtime absence from the squad.
Angola will fight to stay out of the bottom position in the first group stage, but they've proven to be an organized and athletic roster. Coming up against their opponents from the 2019 group stage, Italy and the Philippines, Angola will be motivated to show they've improved on the world stage. However, regarding their chances of topping the group, it'd be considered a miracle for Angola to win Group A.
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Italy is the highest-ranked team in Group A, sitting 10th in the FIBA Rankings.
Group A will play games in the Philippines, specifically in Philippine Arena and Araneta Coliseum in Manila.
The Philippines has the best finish of any team in Group A (Italy, Angola, Dominican Republic) by winning the bronze medal at the 1954 FIBA World Championship.
There are potentially six NBA players competing in Group A of the FIBA World Cup: Simone Fontecchio (UTA), Karl-Anthony Towns (DOM), Al Horford (DOM), Chris Duarte (DOM), Jordan Clarkson (PHL), Bruno Fernando (AGO).
Christian Jope is a writer, social media strategist, and data analyst. A Queen’s University Alumni, Christian is an author and social media strategist with Raptors Cage, while also working closely with MLSE and Canada Basketball through community-driven events.
Email: [email protected]More info on Christian Jope
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