Home team Spain pulls tough group in Basketball World Cup

Champion from 2006 gets France, Serbia and Brazil but cannot play USA until the final

The host nation for the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup, Spain, cannot face the USA until a hypothetical final but received no further favors when the draw for the tournament was conducted in Barcelona on Monday night.

Spain, the world champion in 2006, was drawn into Group A with France, Serbia, Brazil, Egypt and Iran — arguably the toughest group in the competition and featuring three teams who have recently got the better of Juan Antonio Orenga’s side. France beat Spain in the semifinals of the last European Championship, while Serbia was victorious in the quarterfinals of the 2010 World Cup.

Brazil also beat Spain in the 2012 Olympics, 88-82, although there was a certain controversy surrounding that game: in losing, Spain ensured it would not play the USA until the final. France, which subsequently played Spain instead of Brazil in the quarterfinals, accused the eventual runner-up of gamesmanship.

The first four from each group go through to the last-16 phase. Group A qualifiers will play teams from Group B — which on paper is stronger than C and D, meaning Spain could face Croatia — Argentina, 2006 finalist Greece, or Puerto Rico. In the quarterfinals and semifinals Spain’s opponent will likely come from the trio of Serbia, France and Brazil.

If Orenga’s side manages to negotiate those rounds, the small matter of Kevin Durant and the USA may well await in the final.

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