US FIBA World Cup Odds Fall After Overtime Victory vs Turkey
There might be a new favorite in the FIBA World Cup by the end of the week.
USA Basketball was 21.5-point favorites against Turkey on Tuesday, but needed a handful of lucky breaks and late calls to squeak by in a 93-92 overtime victory. Oddsmakers noticed, as the Americans’ gold-medal odds plummeted as the game went along.
Even in victory, Team USA showed flaws that have many wondering if their so-called B-team can bring home gold for a third consecutive tournament.
Americans Look Shaky at Best
Even before Tuesday’s narrow win over the outmanned Turkish national team, the Americans have looked average.
They suffered a friendly loss to Australia as 14.5-point favorites prior to the start of the World Cup, and even their 88-67 victory over Czech Republic felt lackluster; it marked the fewest points in a World Cup opener by an American team that featured NBA players, and they didn’t come close to covering the 28.5-point spread.
USA SURVIVES!— ESPN (@espn) September 3, 2019
Khris Middleton's free throws lift the United States over Turkey in the group stage of the FIBA Basketball World Cup! pic.twitter.com/eU5sAHlUwC
Turkey had multiple chances in regulation and overtime to seal a victory over the Americans, so it’s not much of a consolation that Team USA pulled out the victory. They shot just 35% from the field and committed 14 turnovers, worse marks than Japan managed in a 19-point loss to the Turks.
Team USA will move on the tournament round, but they have very little to feel good about regardless of what they do against Japan on Thursday. They’re still the favorites, but their gold-medal odds have fallen to straight even odds (+100) on 888Sport.
There’s a belief they’ll improve as the tournament goes on, but other teams have looked far more impressive against similar competition.
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Serbia Looks Dominant
The Serbian national team hasn’t faced much competition but has also looked like a team that can take down the US.
They’re 2-0 in group play after wins of 46 points against Angola and 59 points against the Philippines. Neither of those two opponents were ever going to pose a threat, but the Serbs managed to cover the spread in both games and do so in dominant fashion.
Oddsmakers have taken notice of their stellar play – combined with Team USA looking average – and have shortened the Serbs’ gold-medal odds to just +140 on 888Sport. You can still find better value on FanDuel, where the Serbs are +290 to win gold, but either way, oddsmakers are taking notice.
Serbia can finish a perfect 3-0 in group play if they take care of Italy as 13-point favorites on Wednesday. They’ve shot a ridiculous 70.6% from the field – and 59.6% from deep – in two games.
They’ll certainly face stiffer competition as the tournament goes on, but they’re on track to be the tournament’s top overall seed, and players like Nikola Jokic, Bogdan Bogdanovic and Nemanja Bjelica are all playing at high levels.
At this point, their +290 odds on FanDuel hold the best value of any team remaining. Their odds are only going to shorten – as they’ve already done on some sites – as they continue to string together dominant wins.
Greece Stumbles vs Brazil
Giannis Antetokounmpo said he was serious about leading Greece to a gold medal, but thus far his team has looked average. The result has been their gold-medal odds lengthening from +900 at the start of the tournament to +1100 in the wake of their ugly loss to Brazil on Tuesday.
It was one of the bigger upsets of the tournament so far – Greece were 12.5-point favorites – and a confusing one for the Greeks. For whatever reason, they failed to get the reigning NBA MVP the ball throughout much of the contest.
Antetokounmpo was just 3 of 7 in 29 minutes – three of his teammates attempted more than seven shots – and disappeared late when the Greeks needed clutch baskets. His 13 points were fifth most in the game.
The good news is Greece should bounce back. They’ll advance to the tournament stage with a win over New Zealand and should still be considered a gold-medal contender. Maybe an ugly loss was exactly what they needed to realize exactly what Antetokounmpo means and how they’ll only go as far as the Greek Freak takes them.