Fiba World Cup: Tab Baldwin says USA favored but Australia looming as threat

Australian Fiba World Cup

Australia’s Xavier Cooks in the Fiba World Cup. –FIBA BASKETBALL

Tab Baldwin, the former Gilas Pilipinas head coach who also called the shots for New Zealand, Jordan, and Lebanon, is picking Team USA to rule the 2023 Fiba World Cup.

But he also wouldn’t be surprised if Australia pulls off a stunner in the global showcase that got going in three countries, including the Philippines, on Friday night.

“I think it’s going to be a great tournament at the top end. I think you’re gonna see the USA—they’re gonna surprise people with their chemistry and cohesion. But I don’t think it’s gonna be a cakewalk for them. I think Australia is also gonna have a good shot,” he said.

Baldwin said his assessment stems from the Boomers having an exceptional coach in Brian Goorjian, the Tokyo Olympics bronze winner who also coached the Bay Area Dragons in the Philippine Basketball Association in the last Commissioner’s Cup.

Team USA head coach Steve Kerr

U.S. head coach Steve Kerr questions a call during the first half of a Basketball World Cup group C match against New Zealand in Manila, Saturday, Aug. 26, 2023. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

“You know, he’s a very experienced coach. He’s got a team laden with talent,” Baldwin explained. “The Aussies by nature are extremely competitive in nature and they also bond really well.”

“They’ve got a team full of NBA stars but it’s also a team of guys that have spent a lot of time as juniors and Brian’s a hell of a coach—there aren’t many better here. So that’s a good combination for a successful chemistry to get things done,” he added.

The Boomers, flaunting nine NBA players including Josh Giddey and Patty Mills, are off to a good start in the leg of games currently held in Okinawa, Japan. They’re coming off a 98-72 win over the Lauri Markkanen-powered Finland.

Baldwin said he’s also not counting out Canada, which is also loaded with NBA firepower. But there are also other teams to watch out for, among them France, Greece and Germany.

“I think it’s an open tournament and I think it’s really exciting when it’s down to the Top 8. I think there’s gonna be upsets along the way. It’s great for the fans, and great for the country. I’m excited to be here,” he said.

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