The FIBA World Cup Group Phase preview

30/Aug/19 10:40 August 30, 2019

Aris Barkas

30/Aug/19 10:40

Losing a game in the first round will affect the rest of the tournament for the first time

By Aris Barkas/

The FIBA World Cup has expanded to 32 teams for the first time, and under the new format, first-round games are more than a warm-up for the top sides of the competition. Since all the results from the first round follow each team to the second round, losing a game can have much more significant implications for the rest of the tournament.

Still, in most cases, things seem to be quite clear in most groups, and the favorites are expected to deliver. With the Eurohoops guide covering every detail about the 32 teams, it’s time to present the eight first phase groups and the possible outcome of the first round.

In general, most of the European teams are expected to make the cut to the second round with the exceptions of Russia and the Czech Republic.

Group A (Beijing)

Ivory Coast (FIBA ranking 64)
Poland (FIBA ranking 15)
Venezuela (FIBA ranking 20)
China (FIBA ranking 30)

This is probably the most open group in this tournament, and that’s good news for the hosts of the event, China and also for Poland, which is considered one of the weakest European teams of the World Cup. Those two teams are the favorites to advance but are not expected to dominate the Ivory Coast and Venezuela. A perfect record going to the second round is not guaranteed, even for China.

Group B (Wuhan)

Russia (FIBA ranking 10)
Argentina (FIBA ranking 5)
South Korea (FIBA ranking 32)
Nigeria (FIBA ranking 33)

Argentina is the favorite in Group B, but keep an eye wide open for Nigeria. The “Tigers” are probably the biggest dark horse of the tournament. With Russia missing most of its stars, Nigeria is expected to get at least the second spot of the group, or even fight for the top against Argentina. In the second round, the winners of this group are combined with those of Group A, and that gives hope both to Argentina and Nigeria to make it to the quarterfinals.

Group C (Guangzhou)

Spain (FIBA ranking 2)
Iran (FIBA ranking 27)
Puerto Rico (FIBA ranking 16)
Tunisia (FIBA ranking 51)

Spain is expected to finish undefeated on the top, and there will be a dogfight for the second spot. On paper, Puerto Rico has fewer chances that the duo of Iran and Tunisia to advance, but it’s hard to predict how things will end up. Spain used to start slow in those kinds of tournaments and drop a game in the first round. If that happens again, then things will get interesting.

Group D (Foshan)

Angola (FIBA ranking 39)
Philippines (FIBA ranking 31)
Italy (FIBA ranking 13)
Serbia (FIBA ranking 4)

Things are quite clear here with Serbia and Italy being well above their competition. This is going to be a preview for things to come in the second round, where those two teams are expected to cross path with Spain.