Preview capsules on the 32 teams that’ll compete in the Basketball World Cup

Capsules on each of the 32 nations in the Basketball World Cup, listed by their group and in order of world rankings:




World ranking: 10

World Cup appearances: 10

Best World Cup finish: 4th (1970, 1978)

Coach: Gianmarco Pozzecco

Players to watch: Simone Fontecchio, Luigi Datome, Nicolo Melli

Outlook: Fontecchio should be one of the best shooters in the tournament, and the Italians will need shooting since there isn’t a ton of size on the roster. Italy placed fifth at the Tokyo Olympics two summers ago and will try to build off that momentum.


World ranking: 23

World Cup appearances: 4

Best World Cup finish: 12th (1978)

Coach: Nestor Garcia

Players to watch: Karl-Anthony Towns, Lester Quinones

Outlook: Yes, that’s Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns — whose late mother, Jacqueline Cruz-Towns, was Dominican. And that was part of what lured Towns to play for the Caribbean nation again.


World ranking: 40

World Cup appearances: 7

Best World Cup finish: 3rd (1954)

Coach: Chot Reyes

Players to watch: Jordan Clarkson, Kai Sotto

Outlook: They’ll try to set a World Cup attendance record on Friday in their first game, and Clarkson is already a fan favorite in the basketball-crazed Philippines. The odds are long, but Clarkson and Sotto are good enough to give the Philippines hope.


World ranking: 41

World Cup appearances: 9

Best World Cup finish: 9th (2006)

Coach: Josep Claros

Players to watch: Bruno Fernando, Jilson Bango

Outlook: Fernando, the Atlanta Hawks’ big man, is the best player and best hope. Bango is one of the best players in the Angolan top league.



World ranking: 6

World Cup appearances: 4

Best World Cup finish: 2nd (2014)

Coach: Svetislav Pesic

Players to watch: Bogdan Bogdanovic, Nikola Jovic

Outlook: Bogdanovic thrives in the FIBA game, Jovic is one who Serbia believes is a rising star and the team has a ton of shooting. Not having NBA Finals MVP and two-time NBA MVP Nikola Jokic of the champion Denver Nuggets (resting this summer) is an obvious blow.


World ranking: 20

World Cup appearances: 15

Best World Cup finish: 4th (1990)

Coach: Nelson Colon

Players to watch: Tremont Waters, George Conditt IV, Isaiah Pineiro

Outlook: Most of the players on the rosters were either born in the U.S., played collegiately in the U.S., or both. Puerto Rico lost an exhibition game to the Americans earlier this month by 43 points, but stuck with the U.S. for the first half.


World ranking: 27

World Cup appearances: 10

Best World Cup finish: 8th (1994)

Coach: Aleksandar Djordjevic

Players to watch: Kyle Anderson, Zhou Qi

Outlook: Anderson is one of five Minnesota Timberwolves expected to play in the World Cup — for five different nations. He became a naturalized Chinese citizen about a month ago. The 7-foot-1 Qi is the main inside hope.


World ranking: 62

World Cup appearances: 1

Best World Cup finish: N/A

Coach: Royal Ivey

Players to watch: Wenyen Gabriel, Carlik Jones

Outlook: Ivey is trying to instill a basketball culture with the program, and Gabriel and Jones — two players who know their way around an NBA floor — will be his on-court leaders. The universal assessment from their exhibition games: They play hard.



World ranking: 2

World Cup appearances: 19

Best World Cup finish: Champion (1954, 1986, 1994, 2010, 2014)

Coach: Steve Kerr

Players to watch: Jalen Brunson, Brandon Ingram, Jaren Jackson Jr., Anthony Edwards, Mikal Bridges.

Outlook: The tournament favorites should roll through group play. But as the Americans learned four years ago, when a loss to France in the quarterfinals ended their medal hopes and led to a seventh-place finish — the worst ever by a U.S. men’s team in a major international tournament — just one bad game can spell disaster.


World ranking: 9

World Cup appearances: 9

Best World Cup finish: 2nd (2006)

Coach: Dimitrios Itoudis

Players to watch: Thomas Walkup, Georgios Papagiannis

Outlook: They don’t have Giannis Antetokounmpo this summer while he recovers from knee surgery, but still should have a good chance to join the U.S. in advancing out of Group C play and into the second round.


World ranking: 26

World Cup appearances: 7

Best World Cup finish: 4th (2002)

Coach: Pero Cameron

Players to watch: Issac Fotu, Flynn Cameron

Outlook: Flynn Cameron is the coach’s son and the point guard of an offense that will go-go-go, which might help them against many teams and maybe not so much in the opener against the U.S. Fotu is a proven scorer.


World ranking: 33

World Cup appearances: 3

Best World Cup finish: 23rd (2010)

Coach: Wesam Al-Sous

Players to watch: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Freddy Ibrahim

Outlook: Hollis-Jefferson played for three different NBA teams and averaged 9 points in his career, with a 25-point effort against New York as his career-best. Ibrahim runs the offense as point guard.



World ranking: 8

World Cup appearances: 6

Best World Cup finish: 3rd (2010)

Coach: Kazys Maksvytis

Players to watch: Jonas Valanciunas, Rokas Jokubaitis, Ignas Brazdeikis

Outlook: The bad news is no Domantas Sabonis. The good news is that it’s not exactly a loaded group awaiting Lithuania, with Egypt, Mexico and Montenegro set to face it in Group D play.


World ranking: 18

World Cup appearances: 2

Best World Cup finish: 25th (2019)

Coach: Bosko Radovic

Players to watch: Nikola Vucevic, Kendrick Perry

Outlook: Making the second round should be the clear goal for Montenegro, with Vucevic certainly capable of being one of the best players in the tournament.


World ranking: 31

World Cup appearances: 6

Best World Cup finish: 8th (1967)

Coach: Omar Quintero

Players to watch: Gabriel Giron, Paul Stoll, Orlando Mendez

Outlook: They’re not particularly tall, which makes the game plan for the Mexicans fairly obvious. They’ll be aggressive on defense and they’re at their best when they can convert turnovers into points.


World ranking: 55

World Cup appearances: 7

Best World Cup finish: 5th (1950)

Coach: Roy Rana

Players to watch: Anas Mahmoud, Assem Marei

Outlook: Rana is a Canadian coach who is well-known in NBA circles, and he’ll have the Egyptians ready. The question is if they have enough scoring ability to keep pace and have a shot at the second round.



World ranking: 3

World Cup appearances: 13

Best World Cup finish: 4th (2019)

Coach: Brian Goorjian

Players to watch: Patty Mills, Matisse Thybulle, Josh Giddey, Joe Ingles

Outlook: The Boomers finally got their medal breakthrough on the world stage at the Tokyo Olympics, winning the bronze. Losing Jock Landale to injury in the final days of preparations for the World Cup is a big blow. And the Australians are in the toughest group, facing Germany, Finland and host Japan in Okinawa.


World ranking: 11

World Cup appearances: 9

Best World Cup finish: 2nd (2006)

Coach: Gordon Herbert

Players to watch: Dennis Schroder, Franz Wagner, Moritz Wagner, Daniel Theis

Outlook: The Wagner brothers — teammates with the Orlando Magic — seem in excellent form, the leadership at point guard is there with Schroder and there’s a collective toughness around the rim defensively. It’ll be a disappointment if this team doesn’t make the knockout round.


World ranking: 24

World Cup appearances: 2

Best World Cup finish: 22nd (2014)

Coach: Lassi Tuovi

Players to watch: Lauri Markkanen, Miro Little

Outlook: This entire offseason has been about Markkanen representing his country. The reigning NBA Most Improved Player has been fulfilling his mandated Finnish military service this summer and now he gets to trade the military uniform for a basketball one.


World ranking: 36

World Cup appearances: 6

Best World Cup finish: 11th (1967)

Coach: Tom Hovasse

Players to watch: Yuta Watanabe, Keisei Tominaga

Outlook: Watanabe is a proven NBA player and Tominaga plays his college ball at Nebraska after thinking about entering the draft earlier this year. Not having Rui Hachimura is a big loss, but at least Japan will have home fans in group games — unlike the Tokyo Olympics, where fans couldn’t attend because of the pandemic.



World ranking: 7

World Cup appearances: 4

Best World Cup finish: 7th (2014)

Coach: Aleksander Sekulic

Players to watch: Luka Doncic, Mike Tobey, Klemen Prepelic, Zoran Dragic

Outlook: Doncic has slimmed down this summer, and it’s very simple for Slovenia: It’ll go as far as the Mavericks standout takes them in this World Cup. Tobey is the perfect big man for Slovenia’s system and Dragic has tons of experience.


World ranking: 17

World Cup appearances: 5

Best World Cup finish: 11th (1990)

Coach: Fernando Duro

Players to watch: Nestor Colmenares, Gregory Vargas, David Cubillan

Outlook: Here’s the path to the second round: beat Cape Verde and Georgia. Slovenia should roll through the group, but Venezuela still has a chance.


World ranking: 32

World Cup appearances: 1

Best World Cup finish: N/A

Coach: Ilias Zouros

Players to watch: Goga Bitadze, Sandro Mamukelashvili

Outlook: A first-timer on the World Cup stage, Georgia is a team with talent. NBA fans certainly know Bitasze’s game and the 6-foot-10 Mamukelashvili — Mamu, as he goes by in San Antonio — will be a problem for smaller challengers.


World ranking: 64

World Cup appearances: 1

Best World Cup finish: N/A

Coach: Emanuel Trovoada

Players to watch: Walter “Edy” Tavares, Ivan Almeida, Joel Almedia

Outlook: The Almeidas were huge in helping Cape Verde qualify for its first World Cup, and on this stage, the offense will run through Tavares — who’ll have to lead the lowest-ranked nation in the field (according to FIBA’s ranking formula).



World ranking: 1

World Cup appearances: 13

Best World Cup finish: Champion (2006, 2019)

Coach: Sergio Scariolo

Players to watch: Rudy Fernandez, Juancho Hernangomez, Willy Hernangomez, Santi Aldama.

Outlook: There’s a saying in FIBA play, something to the effect of “Basketball is very simple: 10 men go after a ball for 40 minutes and in the end, Spain always wins.” No, this team doesn’t have Pau Gasol and Marc Gasol and Ricky Rubio, but Scariolo is one of the best coaches on the planet and Spain always finds a way to contend.


World ranking: 13

World Cup appearances: 19

Best World Cup finish: 1st (1959, 1963)

Coach: Gustavo de Conti

Players to watch: Raul Neto, Bruno Caboclo, Cristiano Felicio, Marcelo Huertas

Outlook: After finishing 13th at the 2019 World Cup and not qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics, Brazil needs a bounce-back effort this summer and will look to its veterans to lead the way.


World ranking: 22

World Cup appearances: 4

Best World Cup finish: 19th (2010)

Coach: Hakan Demir

Players to watch: Hamed Haddadi, Behnam Yakhchali

Outlook: The 38-year-old Haddadi says this could be his last time on the major international stage; he’s an immovable 7-foot-2 center and Iran’s best hope. Yakchali is the team’s top guard.


World ranking: 42

World Cup appearances: 5

Best World Cup finish: 13th (1982, 1986)

Coach: Dejan Prokic

Players to watch: Mike Fofana, Souleyman Diabate

Outlook: Fofana won a pair of high school state championships while growing up in Tennessee. Diabate is about to play in his third World Cup and is the team’s emotional leader.



World ranking: 5

World Cup appearances: 9

Best World Cup finish: 3rd (2014, 2019)

Coach: Vincent Collet

Players to watch: Rudy Gobert, Evan Fournier, Nicolas Batum, Nando de Colo

Outlook: Even without Victor Wembanyama this summer, France’s goal here — going into the Paris Olympics — is gold. The opening game against Canada will be very difficult, but France should still advance even if it stumbles there. France won bronze at the World Cups in 2014 and 2019, silver (losing to the U.S.) at the Tokyo Olympics and silver (losing to Spain) at EuroBasket last summer.


World ranking: 15

World Cup appearances: 15

Best World Cup finish: 6th (1978, 1982)

Coach: Jordi Fernandez

Players to watch: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Kelly Olynyk, RJ Barrett, Lu Dort, Dillon Brooks

Outlook: Canada can make a statement right away at this World Cup, facing France in its opening game before group play continues with games against Latvia and Lebanon. Gilgeous-Alexander is coming off an All-NBA season, Barrett has had a great summer and Olynyk brings a veteran savvy. Few should be surprised if Canada makes a deep run.


World ranking: 29

World Cup appearances: 1

Best World Cup finish: N/A

Coach: Luca Banchi

Players to watch: Davis Bertans, Rodions Kurucs

Outlook: Bertans is clearly the best player for Latvia, which will make its World Cup debut. Kurucs has some NBA experience and his play on the wing will be critical.


World ranking: 43

World Cup appearances: 4

Best World Cup finish: 16th (2002)

Coach: Jad El Hajj

Players to watch: Omari Spellman, Wael Arakji

Outlook: Spellman is the former Villanova player who spent two seasons in the NBA. Lebanon played tune-up games in Abu Dhabi last week and got a pep talk from none other than U.S. coach Steve Kerr — who was born in Lebanon and watched the team play Arizona, his alma mater.


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