Winning gold is the ultimate goal for the U.S. men’s national basketball team in major competitions. However, securing that top spot is far from certain, particularly at the FIBA Basketball World Cup. The roster of the U.S. fields and the quality of competition in Europe, South America, and now North America, with Canada’s notable improvement, make gold a challenging target.
On Sunday, Canada handed the U.S. a 127-118 overtime defeat, leaving them with the bronze medal. This marked Canada’s first World Cup medal in 87 years, a significant achievement as they aim for Olympic success in Paris next summer.
The U.S. last won the World Cup in 2014, following their 2010 victory, as they sought to bounce back from the disappointment of bronze medals at the 2004 Athens Olympics and the 2006 World Cup. Since then, the U.S. has dominated the Olympics, clinching every gold medal.
Yet, the basketball world is dynamic, and the World Cup doesn’t carry the same prestige as the Olympics. Furthermore, the U.S. hasn’t been able to field its absolute best team, which, with players like Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Jimmy Butler, Steph Curry, and LeBron James, would be a formidable force.
Basketball is Now Globalized
The rest of the world has undoubtedly closed the gap, evidenced by the increasing number of international players in the NBA. Nevertheless, collectively, the USA’s best players remain among the world’s elite.
However, with the 2024 Paris Olympics approaching, U.S. players are hesitant to commit substantial off-season time to back-to-back international events. The Olympics remain their preferred competition, leaving USA Basketball with a B team for the FIBA World Cup.
In this year’s World Cup, the U.S. faced losses to Lithuania in group play and Germany in the semifinals. Germany’s core of Dennis Schroder, Franz Wagner, Mo Wagner, Daniel Theis, and Andreas Obst had previous experience playing together in various FIBA events, including last year’s EuroBasket, where they earned silver, and this year’s World Cup, where they secured gold over Serbia.
In contrast, the U.S. lacked such continuity. Their team only began practicing together in August and played just five exhibition games before the World Cup, in a field of 32 teams that is more competitive than the 12-team Olympic roster.
Gold Medal Favorites for 2024 Paris Olympics
The U.S. will undoubtedly enter the Paris Olympics as the favorites for the gold medal, regardless of their World Cup performance. This experience served as a learning opportunity for U.S. coach Steve Kerr and his All-Star coaching staff, which includes Erik Spoelstra, Ty Lue, and Mark Few, who are expected to be better prepared next summer.
The World Cup was a crucial test for Grant Hill, who just succeeded Jerry Colangelo as managing director of men’s basketball for USA Basketball. Given the fierce competition from countries like Serbia, Germany, Canada, France, and Australia in Paris, Hill is under pressure to put together a squad that can win a fifth straight Olympic gold medal. Gold in the Olympics appears to be far from guaranteed.
Navigating International Basketball: Challenges and Betting Opportunities
The American team is being tested in ways that haven’t been seen in recent international games, so oddsmakers are rethinking their forecasts. Even while the United States will still be the clear favorite in Paris, the lead is getting closer. Sportsbooks benefit from the increasing parity in international basketball since it fosters a lively environment for odds and proposition bets.
Bettors will be closely monitoring the U.S. team’s performance as they prepare for the 2024 Paris Olympics, not only to enjoy the excitement of the competition but also to determine how these global dynamics will effect the odds and betting strategy. After all, the one certainty in the world of sports betting is that there are no guarantees.
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