5 things to know for the FIBA World Cup
Joe Ingles solidifies the golden generation
Australia has long been a basketball hotbed and a team that was quietly pesky in international tournaments. They were beatable but not the team anybody wanted to see.
Now they are not beatable at all. Now they are the favorites.
Australia is ranked third in the world and earned its first medal in a major international tournament with a bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics. Their win over the U.S. in exhibition play that summer proved Australia had reached a new level in international hoops. This rise has been a long time coming.
Joe Ingles has been a big part of it too. He averaged 11.2 points per game, 4.7 rebounds per game and 4.0 assists per game in that effort to win the bronze in Tokyo. That was, of course, before he tore his ACL during the 2022 season.
Now, it feels like Ingles is still getting his legs and consistency back from that injury. But he is still a vital piece of the puzzle coming off the bench.
Orlando Magic fans are still getting acquainted with Ingles’ game. But he is an excellent passer in addition to an excellent shooter. He will spread the floor and keep defenders off balance with his skills even if his game never relied on athleticism.
That is what he brings to the table and it would not be surprising to see the Magic use Ingles in a similar way when he arrives in Orlando at the end of the tournament. His passing is probably his best attribute overall now. But Australia is going to need his shooting in a big way.
Australia is in its golden generation right now with Patty Mills still leading the way but Josh Giddey helping usher in a new wave for the team. Ingles will come off the bench for this group and help anchor a second unit for one of the deeper teams in this tournament.
Australia believes it will win a medal in this tournament to match what it did at the Olympics. But the road will not be easy.
As mentioned earlier, they face off with Germany in group play and are in one of the tougher groups overall. Their second-round cross-match with Slovenia does not make anything easier.
But Australia has depth and talent in their own right. They play a fast-breaking style and have a lot of good, lengthy defenders to throw at teams — from Matisse Thybulle to Josh Green to Dante Exum, who is returning to the NBA this season.
This is a skilled team that does not play dissimilar to the Orlando Magic with all the oversized wings who can handle and pass the ball and use their length defensively to stymie teams.
It is uncertain who the U.S. will end up facing in the end at the World Cup. But do not be surprised if it is Australia lining up to face them.