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Team Canada Suddenly Looks Like The Biggest Threat To Team USA At The FIBA World Cup

ADEK BERRY. Getty Images.

By all accounts, Team USA is expected to run through the competition and take the gold at the FIBA World Cup. Forget the fact they finished 7th in 2019, the expectation is nothing short of gold. 

Now that the tournament is underway, there may be a team out there that has a different idea. One that at the moment shows the potential of being ready to give Team USA a legit challenge. One that's made history in some way each time they've stepped on the floor to start this tournament. Who might that be? 

Team Canada

After winning their opener by 30, I'd say immediately backing that up with a 55 point win is rather impressive. At the moment, Team Canada certainly looks like the biggest threat to Team USA. I think that's the matchup we all eventually want to see correct? The two best teams in the tournament, a ton of NBA players on the court, if David Stern were still alive he 1000% would make sure this tournament is rigged in a way that makes it happen. Give the people what they want.

When you're one of the teams that's talked about as having the potential to win this whole thing, blowouts like Canada has in the first two games are exactly what you're hoping to see. The same way Team USA won by 27 in their opener and needs to follow that up with another blowout over Greece. The contenders should dominate the group stage in my opinion, and that's basically exactly what Canada has done.

So far we've seen SGA come out and have the best FIBA debut of any player in the tournament's history, and then in their second game, they set an assist record and win by 55. I'm not sure what else you could do in an effort to assert yourself as a team everyone has to take seriously. 

The beauty of this tournament though is that despite not every team having a legit chance to win or even medal, that doesn't mean it's still not a very big deal.

The easiest way to get a sense of how important these games are to some countries is to simply watch what happened with Japan. This is a team that's not going to win the World Cup or even medal. But on a day when they made history, you can see what a huge deal this is, and it's partly what makes these tournaments so much fun to watch. 

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it certainly doesn't hurt that this game was played in Okinawa, and what's impressive about this win for Japan is the fact that they pulled it off with their NBA player (Yuta Watanabe) only scoring 4 points on 1-6 shooting. Meanwhile, on the other side for Finland, you had Lauri Markkanen continuing his tear with 27/12. Japan was down 70-53 with about 2 minutes to go in the 3rd quarter, which is what makes this achievement so impressive. In a blink of an eye the tides started to turn and the next thing you knew, after a 26-8 run from Japan by around midway through the 4th quarter they finally took a 79-78 lead and never looked back. 

Granted Finland isn't exactly a basketball powerhouse themselves, but I don't really care who it comes against if you find a way to close a game like that. 26-8 is legit. For all we know Japan doesn't even get out of the group stage of this tournament but whatever, they had their moment. Good for them.

In terms of how the rest of the tournament field is looking, the contenders are starting to separate

You have Germany who is also 2-0

as well as KAT and the Dominican Republic

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and Valanciunas with Lithuania

Safe to say we are off and running with some pretty good basketball so far in these early games. As a reminder, if Team USA advances out of their group, they would then go to Group J in the 2nd round. That grouping will be the other top team from their current group (Greece, Jordan, New Zealand), paired with the top two teams from Group D (Lithuania, Montenegro, Egypt, Mexico). So far that's looking like Lithuania and Montenegro, both now 2-0. It's going to be interesting to see how the JJJ/Paolo combo handles that frontcourt.

I have to say, it does feel great to have basketball back in our lives again. I know everyone is all jacked up over Week 0 and college football right now, and I am too. But there's nothing like scratching that basketball itch as we get one day closer to the start of the NBA season. 

Now we just wait until tomorrow morning for Greece.