Star-studded USA start Basketball World Cup defence against Czechs

Kelly Olynyk

The Americans are in Group E for the tournament that begins in China on August 31. "We are a very young team". So Ersan Ilyasova, who plans to play for Turkey, knew long before the rest of the group was picked that his country will face a serious challenge.

Team Canada could not have had a worse draw for the FIBA Basketball World Cup of 2019.

Gilas Pilipinas, which needed to win its last two assignments and a Korea victory over Lebanon to push through, is making its second straight appearance in the World Cup.

The top two teams in each group move on to the second round where the two best squads advance to the quarterfinals.

A United States team packed with NBA stars will begin its bid for an unprecedented third Basketball World Cup title in a row with a clash against debutants the Czech Republic.

"In my experience, the World Cup is not about the first round - it's all about the second round", Ilyasova said.

Lastly, Group F is made up of Dominican Republic, France, Germany and Jordan. "So if we have a chance to go for it this summer, we will". The Chinese are paired with Venezuela, Poland and Ivory Coast.

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Canada is No. 23 on the FIBA rankings. Despite winning their qualifying group with a 10-2 record, seeds were decided with an eye towards past performance in big tournaments, rather than the qualification tournament itself.

The Tall Blacks will play Greece, Brazil and Montenegro at the 2019 FIBA World Cup. Bryant said he expects competition to be stiff, even for the Americans.

"It's a greater sense of honor to be playing for your country", Bryant said.

"At the start of the game you hear your national anthem being played, you see everyone in the arena with their flags, representing their country and colour".

There is an added incentive for teams at this World Cup, with seven spots at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics up for grabs.

On August 31 they play Australia in the opening game of Group H. Lithuania will be their next opponents on September 2nd and they'll round out their first three games with Senegal on September 4th.

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