Wed, Feb 05, 2014 - Page 19 News List

US, Turkey to face off in World Cup of Basketball group

AP, BARCELONA, Spain

The US are to play Turkey in the group stage of this summer’s World Cup of Basketball in a rematch of the 2010 final.

The rest of the opposition in Group C looks a lot easier, with the US also drawn on Monday to play the Dominican Republic, Finland, New Zealand and Ukraine.

Hosts Spain, meanwhile, have a tougher Group A with European champions France, Serbia, Brazil, Egypt and Iran.

The US are to open their title defense on Aug. 30 against wild-card entry Finland, with the Group C games to be played in the northern Basque city of Bilbao.

The US beat Turkey in the final four years ago, when the tournament was known as the world championship.

“We have some tough teams in the group,” Team USA executive director Jim Tooley said. “Turkey is very strong, but we can’t overlook anyone. We have learned that from the past.”

The US and Spain are in groups on opposite sides of the bracket, meaning the title favorites cannot meet until the Sept. 14 final.

Group B includes Argentina, Greece, Croatia, Senegal, the Philippines and Puerto Rico. Group D has Lithuania, Angola, South Korea, Slovenia, Mexico and Australia.

The draw ceremony was held in the picturesque Palau de la Musica Catalana, an emblematic concert hall in Barcelona known for its beautiful Art Nouveau decorations. However, the home audience groaned when France were placed in Spain’s path after the hosts had already drawn Serbia and Brazil.

Spain coach Juan Orenga said that the group has “four teams that can fight for a medal,” but that might not necessarily be a bad thing.

“If you face tough adversaries at the start, things can be easier later as you advance,” Orenga said. “But we have to make it through the group.”

The top four teams in each group advance to the knockout rounds to be played in Madrid and Barcelona, with the medal games in the Spanish capital.

Kevin Durant and Kevin Love have said they will return to the team, although the rest of the roster has not been set. Durant was named the 2010 tournament’s most valuable player after leading the US to victory in Istanbul.

Two weeks ago, Team USA named a 28-man pool it would later use to form 12-man rosters for both the World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games.

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