It's win or go home.
After the preliminary round cut the number of teams from 24 to 16, the final round of the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup begins Saturday. It is the "knockout" stage of the competition. The top four teams from each of the preliminary round groups have qualified in the single-elimination tournament and now move on.
All three of the Nets players will continue to play, Mason Plumlee for Team USA, Bojan Bogdanovic and Jorge Gutierrez of Mexico will all be on the court Saturday morning ... and on the air.
Team USA vs Mexico will air from Barcelona at 10:00 a.m. ET on ESPN2. Croatia vs France will air from Madrid at 12:00 noon ET on NBA TV. Both will be available on ESPN3 online.
Mexico, who finished 2-3 in the preliminary round, will have a hard time, of course, with undefeated team USA. Gutierrez, who;s wearing a shoulder brace, will be going up against Kyrie Irving and Derrick Rose. If things go as planned, Mason Plumlee should see a lot of action. It's Mexico's first time in the Round of 16. The winner of this game will face the winner of Slovenia vs. Dominican Republic on Tuesday.
Croatia will have a hard time vs. France. Both teams finished 3-2 in the preliminary round. France is without Tony Parker but still has Boris Diaw and Nicolas Batum, both of whom are top NBA defenders and should be a good test for Bogdanovic. Bogdanovic himself noted the challenge in comments to Croatian reporters, comparing Batum to Greece's Kostas Papanikolaou, who gave him trouble last week
@44Bojan: @nicolas88batum is greater challenge than Papanikolau, but I'm ready.— Igor Marinovic (@sofoklo13) September 6, 2014
France has had trouble on the offensive end, but are among the top defensive teams remaining. The winner of this game will go up against the winner of Spain vs. Senegal on Wednesday.
Andray Blatche and the Philippines went home after failing to qualify. Blatche led the preliminary round in rebounding with 13.8 to go along with his 21,2 scoring average, third in the first round behind J.J. Barea and Luis Scola. Bogdanovic finished sixth in points per game at 20.0.
- 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup - Proud Mexico makes history - FIBA.com
- Spain, US look like favorites at basketball worlds - Brian Mahoney - AP