FIBA World Championships Start This Weekend



With exhibition play out of the way, the FIBA World Championships officially kick off tomorrow, with three Grizzlies players in the mix — Rudy Gay with team USA, Marc Gasol with Spain, and Hamed Haddadi with Iran.

Here's the game schedule through the next week for these three squads, with broadcast information where applicable and brief notes. All of the USA games are on an ESPN station. Most of the Spain games are on NBA TV and are worth watching not just for Marc Gasol but because this tournament could be a major coming-out party for 19-year-old point guard phenom Ricky Rubio, who ascended to the starting point guard role for Spain after veteran Jose Calderon suffered an injury that caused him to drop out of the competition.

Saturday, August 28th:

USA vs. Croatia — 11 a.m. (ESPN Classic)
Spain vs. France — 1 p.m. (NBA TV)
Brazil vs. Iran — 1:30 p.m.

Notes: Gasol will tangle with a couple of NBA-caliber bigs in the former of Boris Diaw and Ian Mahinmi, while Haddadi could struggle against what might be the tournament's best frontcourt duo in Anderson Varejao and soon-to-be Spurs-rookie Tiago Splitter.

Sunday, August 29th:

USA vs. Slovenia — 8:30 a.m. (ESPN2)
Spain vs. New Zealand — 1 p.m. (NBA TV)
Iran vs. Croatia — 11 a.m.

Notes: Slovenia features flamboyant Suns backup point guard Goran Dragic, who is coming off a terrific NBA playoff performance and has a chance to elevate himself even more with a good tournament here.

Monday, August 30th:

USA vs. Brazil — 1:30 (ESPN)
Iran vs. Tunisia — 11 a.m.

Notes: With Varejao, Splitter, and Leandro Barbosa, Brazil might boast more significant NBA-caliber talent than any team outside of tourney the US and Spain. With the USA featuring very small lineups, Brazil's size advantage could make for an interesting match-up.

Tuesday, August 31st:

Spain vs. Lithuania — 1 p.m. (NBA TV)

Notes: Tough guy Linas Kleiza, who is returning to the NBA this season, leads Lithuania. This should be a fun game.

Wednesday, September 1st:

USA vs. Iran — 11 a.m. (ESPN2)
Spain vs. Lebanon — 1:30 p.m.

Notes: Both of these games should be massive blowouts, but it will mark the first Griz-on-Griz action of the tournament (discounting exhibition play) with Gay and Haddadi share the court.

Thursday, September 2nd:

USA vs. Tunisia — 8:30 a.m. (ESPN2)
Spain vs. Canada — 8 a.m.
Iran vs. Slovenia — 11 a.m.

Notes: Gasol gets some NBA-level frontcourt competition here in the form of Miami Heat shot-blocker Joel Anthony.

Links: Chris Sheridan leads a nice package of preview stories at, including an overview/prediction piece and a USA roster breakdown. And the Hubie Brown-loving blog The Painted Area has a thorough overview along with separate breakdowns of the individual groups.

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