We’re down to the last eight teams in the FIBA World Cup 2014! Teams representing Asia, Africa, and Australia and Oceania have all been eliminated from the competition. Brazil (South America) and USA face six other teams hailing from Europe. Four teams face off tonight looking to book their seats for the semifinals, while the other four teams will duke it out tomorrow to complete the Final Four. Here is a preview of the quarterfinal match-ups.
Games Tonight (September 9)
USA vs. Slovenia
Team USA is heavily favored to bring home the gold in the event and thusly are also expected to get a win over Slovenia. It will be a contest of contrasting modes of attack. Slovenia’s backcourt combo of Zoran and Goran Dragic will look to push the pace of the game as well as knock down some very important shots from the outside. On the side of the USA, their goal will be to assert their dominance in the paint thanks to their athletic frontcourt players like Anthony Davis and Kenneth Faried. They want to dictate the tempo of the game as early as possible and establish a big lead. Since they have disadvantageous match-ups in the paint, Slovenia will need some good ball movement to find players who are open to take three-pointers.
Lithuania vs. Turkey
This should be an interesting game as Turkey’s Omer Asik and Lithuania’s Jonas Valanciunas duel in low-post. It will about Asik’s defense attempting to slow down Valanciunas’ offense in the paint. Lithuania has the advantage as far as veteran talent is concerned, but as Turkey proved in their come-from-behind win over Australia, they are a team that should not be taken lightly. Turkey should have the edge as far as outside scoring is concerned. If they can get those shots to land, Lithuania will be forced to spread out their defense, opening up the lanes for Turkey to slash to basket. The winner of this game will face the winner between USA and Slovenia.
Games Tomorrow (September 10)
Spain vs. France
Spain’s Pau Gasol has managed to turn back the clock in the tournament so far and has been the heart and soul of his team. France will be looking to lean on Joffrey Lauvergne, who has proved to be an effective centerpiece of their offense. Spain has the advantage of depth, especially as far as its backcourt is concerned. Spain showed what it was capable of during their 88-64 dominant win over France during the group stages. Without Tony Parker, France will need other players to step up and fill the scoring void left in the wake of his absence. Lauvergne is talented and can score from anywhere on the court, but teammates Boris Diaw and Nicolas Batum will need to help him make Spain work hard on defense. Spain should be able to handle France and move on to the Final Four.
Serbia vs. Brazil
Brazil has the more imposing frontcourt, but Serbia is the better team when it comes to doing damage from three-point range. Brazil will have to step up their perimeter defense if they want to bury Serbia underneath a torrent of easy baskets in the paint. A key match-up in this game will between Brazil’s Anderson Varejao and Serbia’s Miroslav Raduljica. Raduljica is Serbia’s best asset in the paint and he will have to match Varejao’s hustle and physicality if he wants to get an edge down low. Leandro Barbosa and reserve Raul Neto will be the backcourt combo to watch on Brazil’s end, while Milos Teodosic and Bogdan Bogdanovic will attempt to break down Brazil’s defense. This game can go either way, with Brazil holding a very slight advantage. The winner of this game will move on to the semifinals to face the victor of the game between France and Spain.