With just hours left before the 2010 FIBA World Championship tournament in Turkey, BallinEurope quits stalling to briefly drop some surely instant-classic Fearless Predictions™ for today’s games. Wall-to-wall coverage as well as all games broadcast live on your computer is available at the FIBA TV website.
Incidentally, if you’re up for the live chat experience during the USA-Croatia match, BallinEurope will be participating in ESPN’s Daily Dime Live Chat starting at 6pm CET (noon EST). The virtual room will surely be cram-packed with prideful Americans, so come out to represent, fans of Croatia (not to mention Russia, Lithuania, France, Spain, Germany, Greece, Turkey and Serbia)!
And the official BallinEurope crystal ball says…
The marquee matchup in Kayseri today may be Germany vs. Argentina; with Andres Nocioni out for the Light Blue-and-Whites and Deutschland’s young guys riding high, Team Germany should keep things close but will succumb to Argentina after having a halftime lead to a still more talented team. Meanwhile, Australia figures to make short work of Jordan; as for Angola, well, they in trouble (even if Serbia’s not bringing Milos Teodosic and Nenad Krstic).
Historically-bound USA and Croatia meet for the first time ever in a FIBA World Championship, but neither country is bringing quite their best side; reckon Ante Tomic is the game’s high scorer as Croatia is able to exploit over some stretches that ever-present size issue of the Americans, but Team USA wins by double figures. The Iran-Brazil matchup might be one of the day’s most interesting with Asia’s unknown champions against a full Team Brazil that’s yet to play together in a game situation; BiE says Brazil wins in a low-scoring, bruising battle. And Slovenia will take care of Tunisia easily.
Which is the biggest potential blowout: The spanking an angry Greece will apply to China or hometown Turkey munching on Cote d’Ivoire? After these games one, figure the two vanquished teams along with Tunisia to enter “worst team in the tournament” discussions worldwide. The third Group C match features an amazing clash of styles in Russia vs. Puerto Rico. Can the relatively undersized islanders (Daniel Santiago and 7’3” Peter Ramos excepted) keep the big Russians at bay underneath? Can Russia’s thus far often lackluster defense containing the high-flying quick-running Puerto Rican attack? BiE’ll take Puerto Rico winning impressively on the way to Carlos Arroyo’s promised best-ever finish.
Ah, the fascinating group. Lebanon vs. Canada may well be the game of the day and should be a dandy to watch. BiE’s got Lebanon winning in overtime as Fadi El Khatib is the first day’s top individual scorer.
On the other hand, Lithuania and New Zealand won’t be close as the Kiwis get blown off the court while the group begins to fear the Lithuanians. In speaking with a journalist friend from the hoops-mad land, he theorized that Martynas Gecevičius had been playing possum a bit in hopes of bringing in the element of surprise – and BiE has no reason to disbelieve it. After all, Gecevičius can take over in international tournaments, as seen at the U18 and U20 levels the past three years, and he’s coming off one heck of a 2009-10 season in leading Lietuvos Rytas to its second consecutive LKL championship. Cat’ll be out of the bag after today.
Finally, there’s France-Spain. Somebody in the FIBA offices has a sick sense of humor for setting up Les Bleus with this match against the team that bounced them in the last international tournament. Look away, French fans: Spain wraps this one up by halftime.