US to play Turkey in basketball World Cup group
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — The United States will play Turkey in the group stage of this summer’s World Cup of Basketball in a rematch of the 2010 final.
The rest of the opposition in Group C looks a lot easier, with the Americans also drawn on Monday to play the Dominican Republic, Finland, New Zealand and Ukraine.
Host Spain, meanwhile, has a tougher Group A with European champion France, Serbia, Brazil, Egypt and Iran.
The U.S. will open its title defense on Aug. 30 against wild-card entry Finland, with the Group C games played in the northern Basque city of Bilbao.
The U.S. beat Turkey in the final four years ago, when the tournament was known as the world championship.
“We have some tough teams in the group,” said Team USA’s executive director Jim Tooley. “Turkey is very strong. But we can’t overlook anyone. We have learned that from the past.”
The U.S. and Spain are in groups on opposite sides of the bracket, meaning the title favorites can’t meet until the Sept. 14 final.
Group B includes Argentina, Greece, Croatia, Senegal, Philippines, and Puerto Rico. Group D has Lithuania, Angola, South Korea, Slovenia, Mexico, and Australia.
The draw ceremony was held in the picturesque Palau de la Musica Catalana, an emblematic concert hall in Barcelona known for its beautiful Art Nouveau decorations. But the home audience groaned when France was placed in Spain’s path after the hosts had already drawn Serbia and Brazil.
Spain coach Juan Orenga said that the group has “four teams that can fight for a medal,” but that might not necessarily be a bad thing.
“If you face tough adversaries at the start, things can be easier later as you advance,” Orenga said. “But we have to make it through the group.”
The top four teams in each group advance to the knockout rounds to be played in Madrid and Barcelona, with the medal games in the Spanish capital.
Kevin Durant and Kevin Love have said they will return to the team, although the rest of the roster hasn’t been set. Durant was named the 2010 tournament’s most valuable player after leading the U.S. to victory in Istanbul.
“Durant and Love have come out as wanting to be the leaders of the group,” Tooley said.
Two weeks ago, Team USA named a 28-man pool it will later use to form 12-man rosters for both the World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games.
“Everyone on the list is interested,” Tooley said.
The U.S. and Spain have met in last two Olympic finals, with the Americans given a hard test before emerging with two gold medals. Spain, which hopes to count on centers Pau and Marc Gasol, won the world championship title in 2006.