From August 25 to September 6, 10 teams across the North and South America continents will come together in Mexico, all vying to become the 2015 FIBA Americas champion. With USA not part of the field again, will Mexico successfully defend its title in front of its home crowd? Or will the region see a new champion? Read on for more about the tournament.[sc:MultiSportArticles ]
2015 FIBA Americas Preview
How it works: Format and Groupings
[sc:Other240banner ]The goal for all of the 10 teams in the 2015 FIBA Americas Championship is to at least get into the final, as the tournament’s champion and runner-up will automatically be qualified to play for the 2016 Summer Olympics Basketball Tournament.
The 10 participating teams in this edition of the FIBA Americas are divided into two groups with five teams each (Group A and B) according to the draw that was held on March 25.
|Group A||Group B|
In the first round of the tournament, each team will play a round-robin format against other teams in their group. After five days of action, the top four teams from each group will get into the next round, where they will all be bundled into just one group. In this round, teams from Group A will play all the teams from Group B and vice versa. Once that’s done, the top four teams advance to the next round, the semifinals. Winners of the semifinals will meet in the final to play for the gold medal, while the losers battle for the bronze.
Favorites: Argentina, Brazil
If you’re wondering why USA isn’t among the favorites, it’s because the Americans are not sending a team to Mexico. By winning the 2014 FIBA World Cup title in Spain last September, USA is already assured of a seat in the 2016 Olympic Basketball Tournament in Brazil, thus making it only logical for it to skip the event in Mexico. For Argentina and Brazil, the absence of the mighty Americans only makes the door towards the championship as wide open as in 2013, when Mexico topped the USA-less tournament.
Argentina and Brazil are both considered not only as basketball powerhouses in FIBA Americas, but also in the world. Argentina is ranked third in the current FIBA world rankings—just behind No. 1 USA and No. 2 Spain—while Brazil is ninth overall. Argentina, however, will have to play in the tournament likely without its most celebrated player, Manu Ginobili. Without Ginobili, Argentina will turn to its other aging stalwarts (and NBA vets) like Luis Scola, Pablo Prigioni, and Andres Nocioni to lead the team. Argentina finished 11th in the 2014 FIBA World Cup, failing to reach the quarters after losing to Brazil in the Round of 16.
Brazil, which finished sixth in last year’s FIBA World Cup, will also play in the tournament minus one of its key players. Anderson Varejao, the team’s leading rebounder in Spain last year, will not be on the team as he continues to heal from an Achilles tear suffered while playing for the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers last December. That said, Brazil remains a team stacked with talent. With NBA players Leandro Barbosa, Nene, and Tiago Splitter likely to be part of its roster, Brazil will have the size, speed, and experience to match up well with any opponent in the upcoming FIBA Americas.
Sleeper: Canada, Mexico
Canada’s hasn’t played basketball in the Olympics since 2000, but with a bumper crop of talented youngsters, Jay Triano and his team may just end the country’s Olympic participation drought as soon as this year. Andrew Wiggins, Kelly Olynyk, Tristan Thompson, and Tyler Ennis are some of the names that headline Canada’s dream roster for the FIBA Americas. And with a capable coach in Triano—coached three years in the NBA—Canada as a powerhouse in the region is no longer a far-fetched idea. Canada finished sixth in the 2013 FIBA Americas Championship.
After capturing its first gold medal in FIBA Americas in 2013 and finishing 15th in the 2014 FIBA World Cup, Mexico saw its FIBA ranking climb five notches higher. The host team for this year’s FIBA Americas will be led by do-it-all big man Gustavo Ayon, who paced the team in points, rebounds, blocks, and steals in Spain. He’ll be flanked by a bevy of players with US NCAA Division I experience like Francisco Cruz Saldivar (Wyoming), Jorge Gutierrez (California), and Roman Eduardo Martinez (New Mexico).
Longshots: Panama, Uruguay
Panama and Uruguay are both in Group A, which means at least one of them will advance to the second round of the FIBA Americas. Still, don’t expect much from both teams when it comes to its chances in winning the tournament. Panama last played in the FIBA Americas in 2011, finishing eighth with a record of 2-6. Uruguay, on the other hand, participated in the 2013 FIBA Americas, but finished the campaign in seventh place.
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