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FIBA Basketball World Cup

FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019: What to watch for in the Second Round

#Bogdanovic #Ingles #Giannis
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The First Round of the FIBA World Cup has come to a close and the Second Round is set to begin immediately.

The 16 countries advancing are finalised with four loaded groups of four teams, so the competition is sure to ramp up even more.

Before Second Round play gets underway, take a look at some key storylines to follow for the next segment of the tournament.

Serbia's dominance behind Bogdanovic

Serbia didn't just finish the First Round with a perfect 3-0 record, they steamrolled every team they faced. The results were jaw-dropping - they defeated Angola by 46, Philippines by 59 and Italy by 15 for a World Cup-best 120-point differential thus far.

It's more than just the wide margins of defeat, too. Their team stats make it look like the Serbs have been playing in an open gym against no competition.

Serbia is averaging 107.7 points per game, a full 13.0 more points per game than the next closest team. They're shooting 62.4% from the field and 53.0% from 3-point land - two mind-boggling numbers that would be tough to achieve in pregame shootaround.

They're led by their NBA star centre Nikola Jokic, who has played exceptionally to this point. Jokic has only needed to play 21.7 minutes per contest and he's been ridiculously efficient. Like ridiculously efficient. The Joker has averaged 13.3 pointers per game and he's missed two shots the entire tournament - he's 14-for-16 from the field and 4-for-4 from long range - all while averaging 6.0 rebounds and 5.7 assists per game.

And he hasn't even been close to the best player on his team.

Enter Sacramento Kings guard/forward Bogdan Bogdanovic.

Bogdanovic has been the best player in the tournament so far. He's averaging 24.0 points per game - the second-most in the World Cup - shooting 56.2% from the field and 65.2% (!) from beyond the arc. To fill out the box score, Bogdanovic has added 4.3 assists, 3.0 rebounds and 2.3 steals per outing.

Serbia's dominance has been scary for every other team hoping to take home the gold. It will be tested against an experienced and physical Spain team, as well as a scrappy, underdog Puerto Rico team in this next stage of the World Cup.

United States versus Greece

Although Serbia has been the favoured threat to the United States since before the tournament began, Greece was always another country popping up in that conversation because of NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.

If it wasn't for Antetokounmpo's performance of 24 points, 10 rebounds and six assists in a win with Greece's back against the wall in the final game of the First Round, this matchup may have never came to fruition.

But the basketball gods have blessed us fans with a gift, as the U.S. and Greece are set to face off to start their Second Round of the World Cup.

Both teams have already been tested - the United States needed overtime and a couple miracles to get past a tough Turkey squad and Greece fell at the hands of a blocked shot at the buzzer against Brazil.

Team USA is plenty familiar with Antetokounmpo and trying to stop him, though the NBA didn't have much success in doing so last season. Milwaukee Bucks teammates Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez will probably have some sort of insight as to how to contain their MVP counterpart, but it's going to come down to if the United States' thin frontcourt can keep up with the physicality it requires to slow down The Greek Freak.

As for Greece, their guards are going to have a handful in trying to stop Kemba Walker and Donovan Mitchell. Corey Webster - the New Zealand shooting guard who is currently leading the World Cup in scoring with 25.0 points per game - nearly single-handedly knocked Greece out of the tournament with a 31-point showing in the final First Round game.

If Greece's guards had that much trouble with Webster, they're going to be spinning on their heads against Walker and Mitchell.

The mismatches should make this contest even more interesting than the headline itself, and it's always fun to watch five players play team defence to contain one unstoppable force.

Can Australia keep rolling?

The Australian Boomers secured a perfect 3-0 start to their World Cup campaign, topping Group H after a thrilling win over Lithuania.

With their biggest win of the first group stage coming against Canada, 108-92, the Boomers have faced some tricky situations against Senegal and Lithuania, passing both tests with flying colours, with some impressive late-game execution.

Patty Mills has been the star of the show, averaging 20 points per game, while continuing his role as the Boomers' late-game closer. He's currently fourth in the tournament in scoring.

Perhaps the most impressive element of the Boomers' campaign has been their commitment to ball movement, with 73 percent of their baskets assisted. They've amassed 72 assists on 98 made field goals, with Joe Ingles commanding the Boomers' offence.

The Utah Jazz small forward turned in his best performance against Senegal, dropping 17 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists, falling one dime short of recording the first-ever triple-double at a FIBA World Cup. He is currently leading the tournament in assists, averaging 8.7 dimes per game.

What makes the Australians so dangerous, is that there is no blueprint for who is going to be 'the guy' on any single night. Through three games, we've seen Mills, Ingles, Matthew Dellavedova and Aron Baynes all take leading roles, with their deep squad giving coach Andrej Lemanis plenty of flexibility depending on matchups.

"That's how Australians play, we don't care who scores as long as the team scores, point guard Matthew Dellavedova said. "I think with our ball movement and player movement, I think that makes us a lot harder to guard."

As they now shift their focus to the second round, where they'll battle France, the Dominican Republic and Lithuania, the Boomers have climbed into second place in FIBA's World Cup power rankings, behind only Serbia.

With their key players all clicking at the right time, the Boomers have the momentum and the personnel to make some noise at the business end of the tournament.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.

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