8 teams are left in the tournament. 8 teams that will try to bring glory to their country. But only one team can succeed.
2nd phase of World Cup has come to an end, as we now know every matchup in the quarterfinals:
USA – France: USA, even though they are still unbeaten, didn’t have any luck with selection of their quarterfinals opponent. France is very hard team to beat and could cause an upset in early stage of knockout phase.
Serbia – Argentina: Serbs were considered a favorite for winning the World cup throughout the whole tournament, but they suffered a surprising loss to Spain. Argentina, led by experienced forward Luis Scola, have the quality to upset the odds.
Australia – Czech Republic: Dark horse of the tournament, Australia, have played lights out in the group stages, and led by NBA players Dellavedova, Baynes and Mills, they certainly have a good chance to win the cup. Czech republic made an incredible run during the tournament, but can Satoransky and his teammates upset the favorites again?
Spain – Poland: Spain, always a tough rival, but not unbeatable, their squad depth is really what makes them stand off other teams. Poles are being great throughout the whole tournament, and at everyone’s surprise, they are in knockout phase fighting for a medal. Their unity might be the key for the win.
How could you ever underestimate the US? After the sudden death win over Turkey, the Americans reclaimed the throne with three easy wins over Japan, Greece and Brazil with +28 points in average. Tatum will be back, Kemba will be healthy and most importantly they are the team with the most go-to players in crunch time! Oh, and did I forget to mention the consensus one of the greatest coaches of all-time, Gregg Popovich?
Australia has become the first team to defeat the Americans since 2006 in Marvel Stadium, Melbourne. That was supposed to be a start of a great championship, and so far it has been all but perfect! Wins over Lithuania and France were enough to place them second over the likes of Serbia and Spain! Great teamwork and in-form starting 5 is what should make or break them in the knockout stage!
Even though Serbia has recently suffered a defeat to Spain, Serbia has been playing the best basketball at the World Cup! A loss to an experienced Spanish team was probably a necessity for Serbia. Bogdanović is quite possibly the an MVP favorite so far but Jokić, Bjelica and Marjanović have to step it up in the knockout phase!
Most of Spanish players have been playing together for over a decade! The core of Marc Gasol, Rudy Fernandez and Ricky Rubio, who are all starting, have played in the Olympics final in 2008 putting up a fight against the ‘Redeem Team’. They know each other really well and the match against Poland should not come into question!
French team could have definitely been ranked higher, due to the fact that on paper French are a sure medal contender. Gobert, Fournier, Batum, De Colo, among others should be a definite threat. Nonetheless, France is facing the US in the quarter-finals and few people are truly picking this French team, which barely got even through to the knockout phase!
Argentina is one of only 4 teams which were not defeated at the World Cup! They have beaten solid squads in Poland, Nigeria and Russia fairly easy. The only thing Argentina did not do is face elite competition and this will exactly happen against Serbia! Can Scola lead his fellow men to World Cup semis?
7. Czech Republic
Czech team was not picked to go through to the group merger, Turkey was. They were not thought to be able to move into the quarter-finals, Brazil and Greece were the favorites. However, Czech team has been playing an all-around fundamental team basketball with Tomaš Satoransky running the point! They are a great collective, but the feeling is that this is their pinnacle point!
Poland is a team who took full advantage of the Group A, beating the rest of the competition. They have been tested by China early, but have managed to get the first spot and also beat Russia at the first round of the group merger! Nonetheless, they have lost to Argentina convincingly and the overall opinion is that they have already overachieved at the World Cup!