By Mark Strotman | | 5 mins
FIBA World Cup Betting: 3 Teams That Could Upset Team USA
The United States has won each of the last two FIBA Basketball World Cups in convincing fashion. In 2010, they returned to glory by going 9-0 with an average winning margin of 24.5 points. Four years later, the 2014 team repeated with another perfect 9-0 record and winning games by an average of 33.0 points.
That won’t be the case in 2019. The quest for a three-peat will be much more difficult for Gregg Popovich and the Americans in the wake of a dozen players leaving the team. They’re still clear favorites to win next month’s FIBA World Cup in China at -177 on 888Sport, but their roster is void of the talent that made them so dominant in 2010 and 2014, and the rest of the world is catching up.
For the first time since 2006, when Spain took home their first ever gold medal, the rest of the world has a legitimate shot to take down Team USA. Here are our three best bets to do just that.
Top FIBA World Cup Picks Outside USA
Other contenders have subsequently seen their odds slashed. Here are three teams with attractive odds that could upset the Americans and win the gold medal in China next month.
1. Serbia (+380)
Serbian head coach Sasha Djordjevic will either go down as the ultimate motivator or the ultimate backfire. He’s certainly confident in his team’s ability heading to China, so much so that he told reporters in August that if Team USA and Serbia meet in the FIBA World Cup, “may God help them.” He also said that “I don’t think about the Americans at all” after listing off seven other countries.
Overconfident to be sure, but the Serbs should feel good about where they stand as they head to China. Nikola Jokic is the best center in the games, and the Americans are light in the frontcourt – Andrew Bogut recently had 16 points in Australia’s friendly win over Team USA. Bogdan Bogdanovic is playing with confidence and point guard Milos Teodosic is built for international play. They’ve also got NBAers in Boban Marjonovic and Nemanja Bjelica to pressure the Americans’ bigs.
The Serbs were once +1200 to win FIBA, but Team USA’s dropouts – and Serbia’s play in friendly competition – has moved them all the way to +380, easily the second-best favorite in the tournament. They appear to be on a collision course to meet in the gold-medal game for a second straight World Cup.
2. Greece (+1100)
Perhaps no team has made as significant a leap forward in the last few months than Greece. Certainly, Giannis Antetokounmpo’s commitment to the national team has been critical – he said earlier that he’d trade his NBA MVP for a gold medal at FIBA – and having the tournament’s best player will give them a chance. The Americans really don’t have a player to defend Antetokounmpo being so guard-heavy.
But they’ve also seen their odds shrink from as long as +3000 to their current +1100 mark on 888Sport because of other contributions from Nick Calethes, Kostas Sloukas, Ioannis Bourousis, and Georgios Printezis. They recently took Serbia, the top team in the FIBA power rankings, to overtime in a friendly loss. That should give them plenty of confidence entering the tournament. They’ll only go as far as Antetokounmpo takes them, but if the Greek Freak really is serious about the competition, Greece will have a shot every time it takes the floor.
3. France (+2500)
Looking for a dark horse? How about the team with the tournament’s best defensive player? Rudy Gobert, the NBA’s two-time reigning Defensive Player of the Year, leads a France team that also includes Evan Fournier and Nicolas Batum. The USA dropouts have Gobert thinking big, telling NY Times’ reporter Marc Stein that “our goal is to win it all.”
Gobert and Batum are lockdown defenders, and they’ve also got lengthy guards in Frank Ntilikina and Nando de Colo that will make scoring on the French difficult. If they can get enough offense from Fournier and others, they’ll be tough to outscore late in games.
Their odds haven’t moved much over the summer – they were +3000 in July – but there’s real value here. It helps that they’ve got one of the easier Groups in the opening stages, too. They’ll have solid positioning once the Round of 16 begins.