Basketball: Tall Blacks to face USA

Alex Pledger of the Tall Blacks. Photo / Getty Images
Alex Pledger of the Tall Blacks. Photo / Getty Images

The Tall Blacks have been drawn in the same group as Olympic champions USA for the FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain.

New Zealand will also face Dominican Rep, Turkey, Finland and Ukraine on Group C in the tournament which starts August 31.

The Tall Blacks are the third highest ranked team in the group behind the USA and Turkey.

At the last World Cup in 2010, the champion USA side sent a relatively inexperienced teamm which contained the likes of now NBA stars Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love.

The top four in each group advance to the next round of the tournament.

The US beat Turkey in the final four years ago, when the tournament was known as the world championship.

Host Spain has a tougher Group A with European champion France, Serbia, Brazil, Egypt and Iran.

The US and Spain are in groups on opposite sides of the bracket, meaning the title favourites can't meet until the September 14 final.

"We have some tough teams in the group,'' said Team USA's executive director Jim Tooley. "Turkey is very strong. But we can't overlook anyone. We have learned that from the past.''

The U.S. and Spain are in groups on opposite sides of the bracket, meaning the title favorites can't meet until the Sept. 14 final.

Group B includes Argentina, Greece, Croatia, Senegal, Philippines, and Puerto Rico. Group D has Lithuania, Angola, South Korea, Slovenia, Mexico, and Australia.

The draw ceremony was held in the picturesque Palau de la Musica Catalana, an emblematic concert hall in Barcelona known for its beautiful Art Nouveau decorations. But the home audience groaned when France was placed in Spain's path after the hosts had already drawn Serbia and Brazil.

Spain coach Juan Orenga said that the group has ``four teams that can fight for a medal,'' but that might not necessarily be a bad thing.

"If you face tough adversaries at the start, things can be easier later as you advance,'' Orenga said. "But we have to make it through the group.''

The top four teams in each group advance to the knockout rounds to be played in Madrid and Barcelona, with the medal games in the Spanish capital.

Durant and Love have said they will return to the team, although the rest of the roster hasn't been set. Durant was named the 2010 tournament's most valuable player after leading the U.S. to victory in Istanbul.

"Durant and Love have come out as wanting to be the leaders of the group,'' Tooley said.

Two weeks ago, Team USA named a 28-man pool it will later use to form 12-man rosters for both the World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games.

"Everyone on the list is interested,'' Tooley said.

The U.S. and Spain have met in last two Olympic finals, with the Americans given a hard test before emerging with two gold medals. Spain, which hopes to count on centers Pau and Marc Gasol, won the world championship title in 2006.

Group A
Spain
Serbia
France
Brazil
Egypt
Iran

Group B
Philippines
Senegal
Puerto Rico
Argentina
Greece
Croatia

Group C
Dominican Rep
Turkey
USA
Finland
New Zealand
Ukraine

Group D
Slovenia
Lithuania
Angola
Korea
Mexico
Australia

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