The United States is the heavy betting favorites to win the FIBA World Cup in China late this summer — James Harden, Anthony Davis, and Kemba Walker headline a deep, talented, athletic, and versatile roster for the United States. Serbia is second on the betting lines thanks to a lineup that features Nikola Jokic, Bogdan Bogdanovic, and Milos Teodosic, as well as experienced European players.
Just don’t sleep on aging but still dangerous Spain.
Spain is also expected to medal, they just announced their roster and it has a lot of names NBA fans know: Marc Gasol (Raptors), Ricky Rubio (Suns), Willy Hernangomez (Hornets), Juancho Hernangomez (Nuggets), plus former NBA players Rudy Fernandez and Victor Claver. Sergio Llull has been coveted by a lot of NBA teams — his rights belong to Houston but he has never come over to the United States — and he will suit up for Spain as well.
“Marc Gasol is destined to take a leadership step, is ready and is looking forward to it,” Spain coach Sergio Scariolo said. “He’s going to be an important reference offensively and defensively, but he’s not the only one that has to fill the void. His great talent and capacity is that he wants to generate for the team.”
Two names you know not suiting up for Spain, Pau Gasol and Sergio Rodriguez. Gasol, still an NBA free agent, is recovering from foot surgery (but does want to play next season). Rodriguez had a long season with CSKA Moscow and decided to sit this one out.
This World Cup also is the primary qualifier for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Closer to home, USA Basketball is scheduled to begin its pre-World Cup camp in Las Vegas Aug. 5, with an intrasquad exhibition game at the T-Mobile Arena on Aug. 9. Then the team heads to Southern California for more training followed by an exhibition against this very Spanish squad on Aug. 16 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif.