Feeling Cavalier in Spain; FIBA World Cup

August 29th, 2014 by Ben Werth

As Spain is rather famous for swashbuckling and suave cavaliers, it seems only fitting that the Cleveland Cavaliers will play important roles for their respective international teams in the Inaugural FIBA World Cup. Let’s hope the young Cavs (let’s just pretend Andy is young) will focus more on crisp ball swings and active defense than seducing a Zerlina or taking out a troublesome commendatore. (Cavs: The Blog: your random source of operatic entertainment.)

In this series of FIBA coverage, I will focus predominantly on the performance of the Cavaliers participating in the Cup. You don’t need me to remind you that Spain’s front court is ridiculously stacked with the Gasols and Ibaka dwarfing the USA bigmen, or that Greece’s backcourt will be ridiculously entertaining with the Greek Freak and Nick Calathes handling the ball. (For more on that, read Grantland’s preview). Instead, this space will be devoted to Cleveland Cavalier performance.

Team USA’s games will be televised on ESPN and NBATV. Most Brazil games and one Australia game are available on NBATV, too.  Most games will be available to watch on ESPN3 online, or on other various ethical and not so ethical streaming sites.

Kyrie Irving PG, USA, Group C

There is a lot of ink spilled on Kyrie already. He has played very efficiently in the scrimmages leading up to the World Cup. More endearing to Cavs fans, Irving has brought good defensive intensity. Consistent ball pressure, and active PnR defense will be crucial going forward. With Derrick Rose’s questionable status, Kyrie could be the primary ballhandler throughout the tournament. He should be ok against the Finnish backcourt.

When and where to watch.
Aug. 30: Group play, USA vs. Finland, 9:30 p.m. local, 3:30 p.m. ET (ESPN), tape-delayed 11 p.m. ET (NBATV)
Aug. 31: Group play, Turkey vs. USA, 9:30 p.m. local, 3:30 p.m. ET (ESPN), tape-delayed 8 p.m. ET (NBATV)
Sept. 2: Group play, USA vs. New Zealand, 5:30 p.m. local, 11:30 a.m. ET (ESPN2), tape-delayed 8 p.m. ET (NBATV)
Sept. 3: Group play, Dominican Republic vs. USA, 9:30 p.m. local, 3:30 p.m. ET (ESPN2), tape-delayed 10 p.m. ET (NBATV)
Sept. 4: Group play, Ukraine vs. USA, 5:30 p.m local, 11:30 a.m. ET  (ESPN2), tape-delayed 11:30 p.m. ET (NBATV)

Anderson Varejao PF, Brazil, Group A

Though Andy will see time at Center as well, he plays predominanlty at the four with Brazil. With Nene, Andy, and Tiago Splitter the Brazilian frontcourt should make life miserable for opposing bigs. The French team offers a long matchup with Rudy Gobert manning the middle, but the real problem for the Brazilians will be containing Nicolas Batum on the wing. The Boris Diaw vs Andy will be fun to watch.

When and where to watch:
Aug. 30: Group play, France vs. Brazil in Granda, 6 p.m. local, 12 p.m. ET (ESPN3, NBATV)
Aug. 31: Group play, Brazil vs. Iran in Granada, 6 p.m. local, 12 p.m. ET (ESPN3, NBATV)
Sept. 1: Group play, Brazil vs. Spain in Granada, 11 a.m. local, 4 p.m. ET, tape-delayed 7 p.m. ET (ESPN3, NBATV)
Sept. 3: Group play, Brazil vs. Serbia, 5 p.m. local, 12 p.m ET (ESPN3)
Sept. 4: Group play, Brazil vs. Egypt in Granada, 3:30 p.m. local, 9:30 a.m. ET (ESPN3, NBATV)

 Matthew Dellavedova PG, Australia, Group D

Delly will take his solid overall game to Spain with phenom Dante Exum at his side. Considering Exum’s youth and relative inexperience, I expect Delly will continue developing as the leader of a tough Australian squad. He will be tested early by Slovenia’s Goran Dragic. If Delly can shut him down, the Aussies will be in good shape. Anybody who is a fan of the Suns’ lefty PG knows that is no easy task.

When and where to watch.
August 30: Group play, Slovenia vs. Australia 4:30 p.m. local, 11:30 a.m. ET (ESPN3)
August 31: Group play, Australia vs. Korea 12:30 p.m. local, 7:30 a.m. ET (ESPN3)
Sept. 2: Group play, Lithuania vs. Australia 4:30 p.m. local, 11:30 a.m. ET (ESPN3)
Sept. 3: Group play, Mexico vs. Australia in Gran Canaria, 12:30 p.m. local, 7:30 a.m. ET (ESPN3, NBATV)
Sept. 4: Group play, Angola vs. Australia, 12:30 p.m. local, 7:30 a.m. ET (ESPN3)

 Erik Murphy PF, Finland, Group D

Wait, who? While I would be extremely surprised to see Erik Murphy play a minute for the Cavs, the ex-Florida Gator was acquired in the deal that sent Carrick Felix to the Jazz. The sweet shooting bigman is legitimately Finnish. His mother played on the Finnish national team. He might prove to be rather effective in the international game. He only took three shots from downtown with the Bulls last season, but he was a very solid three point marksmen in college. It will be fun to see how he fares against Anthony Davis and Co.

When and where to watch.
Aug. 30: Group play, USA vs. Finland, 9:30 p.m. local, 3:30 p.m. ET (ESPN), tape-delayed 11 p.m. ET (NBATV)
Aug. 31: Group play, Ukraine vs. Finland, 3:00 p.m. local, 10:00 a.m ET (ESPN3)
Sept. 2: Group play, Dominican Republic vs. Finland, 8:30 p.m. local, 3:30 p.m ET (ESPN3)
Sept. 3: Group play, Finland vs. Turkey, 4:30 p.m. local, 11:30 a.m ET (ESPN3)
Sept. 4: Group play, New Zealand vs. Finland, 2:00 p.m. local, 9:00 a.m ET (ESPN3)

I really like the idea of a basketball World Cup. If it is even half as entertaining as FIFA’s World Cup, I’m sold. I like basketball about million times more than soccer, so this should be great.

Prediction: USA beats Spain for the Cup. Delly earns more fans as he starts his 2014-2015 quest to be Favorite-Role-Player-on-a-Championship-Team-Ever. I’m in.

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