The World Cup is looking for a king… in the middle of a typhoon!
Eight left. Like a story of drama, the last ticket to fight for the Naismith Trophy as world champion came from the moment the queen abdicated. With all honors, yes. Álex Abrines was inches away from the triple miracle, and Spain did not accomplish another impossible task. Canada passed and got the last ticket to the quarterfinals of the 2023 World Cup. The eighth guest at a party that Manila, a basketball-crazy city, is already enjoying. Now everything goes to the Mall of Asia Arena in a Philippines dedicated to basketball and victim of wild weather. Manila, with all its conditions such as traffic, is experiencing the rainy season and will put the epic tone to inherit the crown that Spain dropped in Jakarta. Another different story. But a typhoon is the backdrop to a World Cup that began marked by absences and is full of surprises.
This is what the quarterfinals are like
Lithuania – Serbia (day 5, 10:45)
The quarterfinal round begins with a classic, Lithuania-Serbia. Manila has already taken the Lithuanian green, which floods streets and hotels. They are two solid teams, absolutely elite. In Lithuania, the state of excitement is triggered, as they beat the unbeatable United States (104-110) in a match that they dominated and did not allow Edwards and Bridges to put the favourites. Despite the absence of Domantas Sabonis, they find great circulation towards Jonas Valanciunas through Jokubaitis and the solutions provided by Brazdeikis. Serbia will not be 100% in the mood. Borisa Simanic’s difficult situation will surely affect a team that is going from strength to strength in the tournament. He closed the second phase with some doubt, and they note that only Bodganovic as a solver in moments of traffic jam may not be enough.
Italy – United States (day 5, 2:40 p.m.)
If there is a team that can win or lose with anyone, it is Italy. He is a true reflection of his coach, Gianmarco Pozzecco. Histrionic, on many occasions crazy to get muddy in the fight from long distance and with a decisive Simone Fontecchio. But he runs into the great wall, the United States. That is a very complicated mountain, but as their latest EuroBasket or the second phase of the World Cup shows, if anyone can do it, it is them. The United States is hurt after giving in to Lithuania. He lacked concentration and success in a team with a very high pace, unapproachable in defending its transitions, and with mainstays like Edwards, Reaves and Bridges. They have to get back to work, find the rebound and take off to be the favorite again.
Germany – Latvia (day 6, 10:45)
One of the best matches of the World Cup will feature Germany and Latvia. The Germans make valid those wonderful sensations from the bronze in the last EuroBasket and are probably the team with the best basketball. Schröder is outspoken, but he is insultingly decisive. The Wagners have to show up. And Theis is a tireless worker under boards. His litmus test is in the face of madness. Because Latvia is not going to cut itself. ‘Passes’ control and peace of mind. He plays on the run, to make the opponent desperate from the outside, and has the revelation of the tournament in the figure of Arturs Zagars. He is a point guard with great vision, good shooting and physicality. A star that embraces what Bertans or the tireless Smits give. Next to him, thousands of fans.
Canada – Slovenia (day 6, 10:45)The best possible match will close the quarterfinals: Canada-Slovenia. Two candidates for gold based on what is seen on the field. World stars. Unbeatable cocktail. Canada comes as a shot after overcoming its slump against Brazil by coming back against Spain with a brutal finish from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Exquisite in the middle distance, always decisive and ‘cold’ to win a match against the champion. Think gold. You must do it.
Of course, Luka Dončić appears on the other side of the court. The best player in the world under FIBA rules. Scorer, present, unstoppable. The Slovenian wants to reach the maximum possible, and that is world gold. His colleagues have to give a plus, because Luka will be up to the task in any way. His show is already in Manila. He wants to be the emperor in the middle of the ‘typhoon’.