Greece placed in inviting Group F for FIBA World Cup
On Saturday, the draw for the 2019 FIBA World Cup took place in China, with Greece placed in Group F with New Zealand, Brazil and Montenegro.
Greece were practically perfect in qualifying, losing just one match as the team defeated Israel, Estonia, Great Britain, Germany, Serbia and Georgia to comfortably seal their berth at the 2019 FIBA World Cup. As a result, the Episimi Agapimeni were among the top seeds for the main tournament, and basketball legends Kobe Bryant and Yao Ming led the draw proceedings on Saturday afternoon.
The Greeks have been drawn into Group F of the 2019 FIBA World Cup alongside New Zealand, Brazil and Montenegro. At first glance, it’s a group which Greece will expect to win, but the Brazilians will pose a real threat and the other two opponents cannot be taken lightly. Montenegro are making their World Cup debut, but in 2002, New Zealand managed to finish in fourth place of the tournament. Brazil became world champions twice in 1959 and 1963. All Group F matches will be played in Nanjing.
Eight groups of four teams have been put together (Groups A-H), and the top two of each group will advance to the second round. There, a second group stage will be formed, where the teams will be split into four groups of four teams each (Groups I-L). The best two teams will advance to the quarter-finals, which will consist of a single game knockout format until a champion is crowned on September 15th, 2019. The competition will begin in China on August 31st.
If Greece progress to the second round, they will likely meet with clear tournament favorites the United States (from Group E), the second placed team from that same group (assuming the USA finish first in Group E), and the second placed team from Greece’s Group F (assuming Greece finish first in Group F). This group will be Group K. With the USA expected to finish first in the second stage as well (Group K), Greece will fight with teams E2 and F2 for a place in the quarterfinals.
In the last eight, depending if Greece finish first or second in the second stage (third or fourth would result in elimination), the country will pair up with the top team from Group L (if Greece finish second in Group K) or the second placed team from Group L (if Greece finish first in Group K). If the tournament proceeds without upsets, the Ethniki could meet France or Lithuania in the last eight, or outsiders Australia and Germany. If Greece do meet the USA in the second stage in Group K (a likely scenario), the two teams cannot meet again until the final on September 15th.
Full draw for the first group stage of the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China:
GROUP A (BEIJING)
GROUP B (WUHAN)
GROUP C (GUANGZHOU)
GROUP D (FOSHAN)
GROUP E (SHANGHAI)
GROUP F (NANJING)
GROUP G (SHENZHEN)
GROUP H (DONGGUAN)
FIBA has also revealed the ball which will be used at the World Cup in China. The ball is designed to allow players to control it easier, while providing extra resistance against sweat and moisture:
Thanasis Skourtopoulos, head coach of the Greek national team, shared his initial reaction to the draw: “This is a positive draw, but in any case, our target would have always remained the same. We’re ready for the challenge against any opponent. I firmly believe that if we play to our potential, we will qualify from this group and the team will then strive to achieve the best result possible. Brazil are a South American force, Montenegro are familiar opponents for us, and New Zealand are traditionally competitive at this level. We need a full, healthy roster to play at our maximum.”
Sport FM subsequently reported that Greece will begin the competition against Montenegro on August 31, before taking on Brazil on September 2 and New Zealand on September 4.