A responsible pundit must try to be concise when handicapping huge intercontinental sports tournaments, namely anything with “Champions League” or “World Cup” in front of it.
Hundreds or thousands of athletes are involved, meaning that the reader can get overwhelmed if too much information is spelled out at once.
Heck, when that happens, sometimes people even call the cops.
Because there can be too much of a good thing sometimes, I considered skipping over reporting some of the new gambling odds on nations in the final 3 FIBA round-robin Groups F through H, each set to tip-off in China on Sunday 9/1.
And then I imagined getting a dirty look from this guy.
Yes of course, sir, why I wouldn’t think of not previewing Greece and the other teams in the last 3 groups, absolutely not Mr. Antorkokomo…Mr. Ankletokyo…absolutely not, Mr. Freak.
Greece is just 1 of many countries in the final 3 FIBA Basketball World Cup groups which are taking a healthy amount of futures betting action, especially now that Team USA is looking more and more like a pedestrian NBA lineup.
Here’s a closer look at the best of the rest.
FIBA World Cup: Group F Rosters and Line-Movement
Greece ((+1100) Odds-to-Win Gold, (-500) Odds-to-Win Group F)
Greece got a monumental lift when reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo confirmed his participation at the FIBA World Cup. The Greek Freak had a career season with the Milwaukee Bucks with a 27.7 point, 12.5 rebound, and 5.9 assist average during the 2018-2019 season. Point guard Nick Calathes and 7’1” center Ioannis Bourousis held down the fort during European qualifiers, each averaging 15+ points per game and setting the table for a superstar to take their squad over the top.
But the Greeks are unproven in the medal round, having finished a mediocre average of 10th in the previous 2 cycles.
Thanasis Skourtopoulos became the national team coach in 2017, a sweet-spot contract signing with the ascension of the Freak to NBA stardom.
Greece opens against Montenegro – “Little Montenegro!” as Fitzgerald once wrote – in Nanjing on September 1st. The nation’s line-to-win Group F has shrunk from 1-to-3 all the way to the current number.
Brazil (+15000) (+550)
Brazil has a storied history at the FIBA World Cup, but its gold-medal triumphs are far in the past. Recently the nation has been coming heartbreakingly close to the international podium, but there’s no bling around any necks just yet.
NBA champion shooting guard (which is not to say “NBA shooting champion”) Leandro Barbosa led the Brazilian team in qualifiers with a 14.7 point average. Veteran center Anderson Varejão brings tons of leadership and experience from a lengthy NBA career with Cleveland and Golden State.
Youthful small forward Bruno Caboclo saw more NBA action for the Memphis Grizzlies during the 2018-2019 season than at any time during his career. The up-and-comer averaged 8.3 points and 4.6 rebounds in 34 appearances.
Head coach Aleksandar Petrović took the job with Brazil after leading the Croatia National Team to the quarterfinals of the 2016 Olympics.
Elsewhere in Group F, “Little” Montenegro will be making its maiden appearance in the World Cup in 2019 but could be a canny Group F wager at (+1200) or potentially an excellent moneyline underdog pick to defeat Brazil for a spot in the Round of 16. Montenegro faces Brazil in Nanjing on Thursday.
Why? Well, for a start, Montenegro’s 7-foot center Nikola Vučević is anything but little. The big man received an NBA All-Star nod in 2019 for shining with the Orlando Magic, averaging a career-best 20.8 points and 12 rebounds. 6’9” power forward Bojan Dubljević is another low-post threat who can hurt international opponents.
New Zealand rounds out Group F futures betting at 18-to-1 odds.
FIBA Group G Odds-to-Win and Prediction
France ((+2500) Odds-to-Win World Cup, (-400) Odds-to-Win Group G
France is among the nations that has seen more Las Vegas action now that the United States appears vulnerable, but a shortened 1-to-4 payoff in the squad’s Group G line is also noteworthy.
Massive French center Rudy Gobert had a productive season for the Utah Jazz, averaging 15.9 points and 12.9 rebounds while earned a 2nd-consecutive NBA Defensive Player of the Year award. Nicolas Batum of France had another nice season with the Hornets too, and adding to France’s NBA pedigree, Evan Fournier was a double-digit man for the Orlando Magic in 2018-19.
But it takes more than NBA talent to win the FIBA title, just as it takes more than NHL or Premier League talent to win international events in other sports. France is taking decent betting action (even to win the gold medals in China) because Les Bleus (the other “Les Bleus”) is viewed as a program on the rise with hungry talent on the hardcourt.
France earned bronze at the World Cup in 2014 and is led by a dynamic head coach in Vincent Collet. Maybe we’ve found our Group Stage futures lock…but a look at the other 3 nations is obliged.
Germany (+15000) (+350)
Germany is also on a trajectory upward, but when a 6th-place EuroBasket finish is cause for celebration, there’s little reason to think Henrik Rödl’s squad is on a level with the French.
There’s some NBA ability to go around, though. 6’1” guard Dennis Schröder has had a fantastic career with the Atlanta Hawks and Oklahoma City Thunder, and is sure to try to light up the board when the Germans open against France at Shenzhen Bay Sports Centre.
6’10” small forward and team captain Robin Benzing was outstanding in qualifiers, averaging 18.3 points and 3.1 rebounds.
Dominican Republic (+1100) and Jordan (+10000) are each interesting underdogs of the quartet in their own way – the Dominicans are coming off an exceptional performance at the 2014 FIBA World Cup – but 13th place was the cause for celebration at Federación Dominicana de Baloncesto. Zaid Ahmed Abbas was terrific for Jordan in qualifiers, but the depth isn’t there for his squad.
Ultimately this is France’s group to win and bettors have realized that, causing the Vegas lines on the French to shrink since early August.
Group H: Odds to Win the Tightest-Handicapped FIBA Round-Robin
Australia ((+3300) Odds-to-Win World Cup, (+120) Odds-to-Win Group H)
Welcome to the Group of Death. It’s really bad form to call this preview “best of the rest,” since Group H match-ups like Canada vs Australia on 9/1 could have a profound impact on the outcome of both futures betting markets (to-win-gold and to-win-Group) despite coming at such an early hour in the tournament.
Australia is hoping to build off a stellar 4th-place run during the 2016 Olympics. Boomers’ results in World Cups have been no kind of spectacular, though, calling a (+120) Group Stage gambling line into question.
Several NBA players will be manning the backcourt, including the duo of Patty Mills and Matthew Dellavedova. Mills has been a notable contributor for the San Antonio Spurs and has an NBA title ring, while Dellavedova has also reached the sport’s pinnacle with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
6’8” small forward Joe Ingles had another solid season with the Utah Jazz, and imposing Andrew Bogut will join forces with Aron Baynes and Jonah Bolden in the paint.
Lithuania (+4000) (+140)
The Lithuanians get it done at the FIBA level, not finishing out of the top 4 in the current decade. Head coach Dainius Adomaitis won a bronze medal at the 2000 Olympics and took over as a homeland-hero skipper in 2016.
His team is led a its talented frontcourt duo of Domantas Sabonis and Jonas Valančiūnas.
Sabonis is coming off a 14.1-point and 9.3-rebound average with the Indiana Pacers during his 3rd NBA season.
Valančiūnas, a 7-foot center, averaged double-doubles with the Toronto Raptors and Memphis Grizzlies in 2018-19. 6’5” guard Mantas Kalnietis is the star of the backcourt.
Canada is a (+300) wager to win Group H and will be tough out for either of the leading favorites, however the Canadian squad can be compared to the USA for its failed effort at getting the finest NBA talents to take part in China.
Senegal is a 200-to-1 bet to finish 1st of 4 thanks to the unluckiest draw of the tourney.
Kurt has authored close to 1000 stories covering football, soccer, basketball, baseball, ice hockey, prize-fighting and the Olympic Games. Kurt posted a 61% win rate on 200+ college and NFL gridiron picks last season. He muses about High School football on social media as The Gridiron Geek.