Congrats @HellenicBF @BasketFinland @CBB_basquete @TurkishBBall! See you Monday at the Draw of #Spain2014! http://t.co/wnPWScsN6L
— FIBA (@FIBA) February 1, 2014
Second... wait, Finland? How did even Finland get in the mix? First, the massive, I repeat, MASSIVE withdrawals of Germany, Italy and China, and the pseudo-withdrawal of Russia opened up three slots in the wild card race.
Among the wild card applicants, the consensus was Brazil and China were the easiest shoo-ins. Yours truly had Brazil, China, two from Greece, Russia, Germany and Italy (heh, sorry, I was too safe) going, and none from the likes of Finland, Belgium, Latvia and Germany. I even included Germany on both lists. On my second mock draw, I had China, Brazil, Italy and Greece going in.
As you can see, Russia, Italy and China were one of my, and certainly other people's, favorites going in the wild card race, so it screwed up so many people's predictions that they withdrew. With that said, Brazil and Greece make sense, Turkey, although they've been atrocious in tournaments held outside Anatolia, also made some sense, but Finland?
Of course, Angry Birds have to be in the mix. Rovio, the makers of Angry Birds, promised FIBA massive advertising in their games. So this x-deal made massive sense. And it helps that Finland has beaten both Greece and Turkey in the EuroBasket 2013.
Let's take a look at the performance of the wild cards in the last 8 years:
What does this mean for the draw? The withdrawal of China changes our mock draws: all of the previous mocks had China being selected as a wild card. With China gone, some rules in the mock draw would have to be changed. First, this means there'd only be three Asian teams in the mix. It also means it adds another European teams (on the assumption that Brazil's gonna make it too, so only 2 European teams would've been selected).
Also: Turkey. 2010's runner-up made it, so the top 4 teams from Turkey 2010 are going to Spain 2014. That means one can make a "pot" out of these four. Again reviewing the 2010 championship pots from our first mock, we'd get these pots:
- Pot 1, the top 4 from 2010: USA, Turkey, Lithuania, Serbia
- Pot 2, the top European teams: France, Spain, Croatia, Slovenia
- Pot 3, the Americas teams: Mexico, Puerto Rico, Argentina, Dominican Republic
- Pot 4, the last European team and the wild cards: Ukraine, Finland, Greece, Brazil
- Pot 5, ROTW World Cup veterans: Iran, Angola, Senegal, Australia
- Pot 6: World Cup newbies and NZ: Philippines, Korea, Egypt, New Zealand
|Pot 2||Pot 3||Pot 4||Pot 5||Pot 6|
|USA (1)||France (8)||Mexico (24)||Ukraine (45)||Iran (20)||Philippines (34)|
|Turkey (7)||Spain (2)||Puerto Rico (17)||Finland (39)||Angola (15)||Korea (31)|
|Lithuania (4)||Croatia (16)||Argentina (3)||Greece (5)||Senegal (41)||Egypt (46)|
|Serbia (11)||Slovenia (13)||Dominican Republic (26)||Brazil (10)||Australia (9)||New Zealand (19)|
So for example, the only teams Gilas won't play in the prelims in this draw are Korea, Egypt and New Zealand. The teams from Pots 1 to 5 are fair game. To make it really simple, if you're lazy enough, every row can be considered as one potential "group". So Row 1: USA, France, Mexico, Ukraine, Iran and the Philippines, are a valid grouping in this mock draw.
Also, the assignment of Groups A and B, and Groups C and D should be noted as those will be the pairings for the final round. Finally, drawing for what city will hose each group should also be noted.
For Gilas, if their target is to qualify to the last 16, they should beat the teams from Pot 5, and hope for a massive logjam at the bottom and win out on the tiebreaker, if they're gunning for 1 win, or any of the teams from the other pots if they want to be sure 90% sure and qualify with 2 wins. (A team can still lose out with 2 wins if there are many teams tied.)
Tomorrow, FIBA should release the pots (or "lines") on how the draw will be made, and on Monday (Tuesday in the Philippines) is the actual draw itself. So if you're wondering which teams Gilas would face, and you're stumped, this will have to do.