The basketball desert of the offseason has found an oasis. The FIBA World Cup is here.
While there is certainly some star power lacking from this tournament — the U.S. is sending an inexperienced international squad for its World Cup redemption and Kristaps Porzingis, Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray and Giannis Antetokounmpo are among the elite international players sitting this tournament out — it will still be a fascinating few weeks of basketball leading up to crowning a champion.
The U.S. is obviously still the prohibitive favorite. They went a perfect 5-0 through their difficult pre-tournament run and came together quickly with impressive fourth-quarter wins over Spain and Germany.
But the fact Germany took a 16-point lead in the second half and forced a U.S. rally and Spain came back from a double-digit deficit to take a fourth-quarter lead are signs the U.S. is not an unbeatable behemoth.
It all means this will be an exciting and fun tournament where nobody really knows what is going to happen. It is an early morning breakfast buffet (for the U.S. at least) of basketball that is coming up for fans around the world.
The FIBA World Cup is here and the Orlando Magic have five players set to take the court for their home nations in what should be an exciting and intriguing tournament.
The Orlando Magic will be watching the tournament with great interest for sure. They have five players participating in the tournament — Paolo Banchero (United States), Franz Wagner (Germany), Moe Wagner (Germany), Joe Ingles (Australia) and Goga Bitadze (Georgia).
That would mean the Magic will get good looks at their two young stars before training camp begins for this critical season. And they will get a good look at three other role players who figure to compete for spots in the team’s rotation.
Four of those five players (sorry Bitadze and Georgia) will be playing for teams competing for medals at the tournament. So we will get to see them play in pressure games — great practice for the NBA playoffs and the trophies they will be competing on again next summer in Paris at the Olympics.
There is a lot to learn at the World Cup. And ultimately, all that matters is winning and taking home the championship trophy — something the U.S. has not done since 2014.
It can be a lot to follow and everything feels a bit different than it will when the players return for the NBA season. So what should everyone be watching when the Magic players take the court? That is what this post is for.