As the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup nears, the United States Men's National Team continues its preparation with exhibition games in Australia against the host's national team and the Canadian National Team.
When the first stage of the World Cup begins on Aug. 31, Team USA will be grouped with The Czech Republic, Turkey and Japan as members of Group E. The top two teams from this group will advance to the second stage, in which there will be four groups of four teams that vie to advance to the knockout stage.
Although a number of notable Americans have withdrawn from consideration for the team's final 12-man roster, Team USA is still widely considered as the favourite to capture the Gold in China, but it won't be easy.
With that in mind, here's more on each team that the United States is set to face in the first stage.
FIBA Ranking: 24
When they play: Sunday, Sept. 1, 8:30 a.m. ET
|Patrik Auda||F||6'9"||Pistoia Basket 2000|
|Ondrej Balvin||C||7'1"||CB Gran Canaria|
|Jaromir Bohacik||F||6'6"||CEZ Nymburk|
|Petr Herman||F||6'10"||Loyola Marymount Lions|
|Vojtech Hruban||F||6'8"||CEZ Nymburk|
|Martin Kriz||F||6'7"||CEZ Nymburk|
|Michal Mares||F||6'4"||USK Praha|
|Lukas Palyza||F||6'8"||BK Olomoucko|
|Martin Peterka||C||6'8"||CEZ Nymburk|
|Viktor Pulpan||G||6'3"||BK Pardubice|
|Pavel Pumpria||F||6'6"||CEZ Nymburk|
|Simon Pursl||F||6'9"||Turi Svitavy|
|Petr Safarick||G||6'4"||BC Collin|
|Tomas Satoransky||G||6'7"||Chicago Bulls|
|Blake Schilb||F||6'6"||Champagne Basket|
|Jakub Tuma||G||6'4"||USK Praha|
|Tomas Vyoral||G||6'3"||CEZ Nymburk|
Of the 20 names that are in consideration for The Czech Republic's final 12-man roster, Chicago Bulls point guard Tomas Satoransky is the most notable as the team's lone NBA player.
Satoransky, a 6-foot-7 combo guard, has been competing internationally for his country since 2009, standing out as a playmaker at the FIBA EuroBasket 2017. Although the Czech Republic went 1-4 at the tournament, Satoransky was third among all players with 6.6 assists per game. In addition to his passing, he averaged a team-high 12.2 points per game while shooting 35.7% from beyond the arc.
After Satoransky, Patrik Auda was the team's second-leading scorer at EuroBasket with 11.6 points per game (on 54.5% shooting) while Vojtech Hruban averaged 11.4 points per game in just under 25 minutes of action.
It's been two years, but the team's FIBA Ranking of 24 would suggest an improvement since falling short at Eurobasket.
FIBA Ranking: 17
When they play: Tuesday, Sept. 3, 8:30 a.m. ET
|Dogus Balbay||G||6'1"||Anadolu Efes|
|Metecan Birsen||F||6'10"||Anadolu Efes|
|Ersan Ilyasova||F||6'10"||Milwaukee Bucks|
|Furkan Korkmaz||G||6'7"||Philadelphia 76ers|
|Cedi Osman||F||6'8"||Cleveland Cavaliers|
|Serac Sanli||C||7'0"||Anadolu Efes|
|Bugrahan Tuncer||G||6'4"||Anadolu Efes|
|Berk Ugurlu||G||6'4"||Pinar Karsiyaka|
|Scottie Wilbekin||G||6'2"||Maccabi Tel Aviv|
Behind the USA, Turkey has the second-most NBA talent in Group E, with the trio of Ersan Ilyasova, Furkan Korkmaz and Cedi Osman.
Osman, who has shown great strides in his game over the past two years, was Turkey's leading scorer at FIBA EuroBasket 2017 with 16.0 points per game. More recently, the 24-year-old Osman helped lead Turkey to a third-place finish at Greece's Acropolis Tournament in preparation for the World Cup with a team-high 20 points in a win over Italy.
Ilyasova added 16 points while Korkmaz added 12 points.
Also worth noting is former Texas Longhorn Dogus Balbay and naturalized Turkish citizen Scottie Wilbekin, who was a stand out during his time at the University of Florida and has received multiple NBA Summer League invites since graduating in 2014.
7-footer Semih Erden brings size to this roster and an NBA pedigree as he appeared in 69 games over two seasons with the Celtics and Cavaliers from 2010-12. Erden was also a member of the 2010 Turkish team that won silver at the 2010 World Cup, losing to the US by 17 in the title game.
With its talent and roster composition, Turkey could pose the biggest threat in Group E.
FIBA Ranking: 48
When they play: Thursday, Sept. 5, 8:30 a.m. ET
|Seiya Ando||G||5'11"||Toyota Alvark|
|Shuto Ando||G||6'3"||Nagoya Diamond Dolphins|
|Yudai Baba||F||6'6"||Toyota Alvark|
|Nick Fazekas||C||6'11"||Kawasaki Brave Thunders|
|Rui Hachimura||F||6'8"||Washington Wizards|
|Tenketsu Harimoto||F||6'6"||Nagoya Diamond Dolphins|
|Makoto Hiejima||G||6'3"||Utsunomiya Brex|
|Atsuya Ota||C||6'9"||San-en NeoPhoenix|
|Avi Koki Schafer||C||6'8"||Kentucky Wildcats|
|Ryusei Shinoyama||G||5'10"||Kawasaki Brave Thunders|
|Joji Takeuchi||F||6'9"||Toyota Alvark|
|Kosuke Takeuchi||F||6'9"||Utsunomiya Brex|
|Daiki Tanaka||G||6'4"||Toyota Alvark|
|Leo Vandame||G||6'0"||Sun Rockers Shibuya|
|Hugh Watanabe||F||6'10"||Portland Pilots (NCAA)|
|Yuta Watanabe||F||6'9"||Memphis Grizzlies|
Japan is one of the more intriguing team's that will be at the World Cup as it has formed a "Big Three" of some sorts with naturalized citizen Nick Fazekas, Rui Hachimura and Yuta Watanabe.
The 34-year-old Fazekas was drafted No. 32 overall by the Dallas Mavericks in 2007, appearing in 26 NBA games with the Mavs and Clippers in his rookie season. He has spent the last seven seasons in Japan, winning Japanese B.League MVP in 2017.
Hachimura, who is undoubtedly the most talented player on the roster, became the first Japanese player selected in the first round of the NBA Draft after he was selected ninth overall by the Washington Wizards in June. The 21-year-old is finding his stride, as he put forth an impressive 35-point performance in an exhibition win over New Zealand on Aug. 11.
.@Rui_8mura drops 35 points on 13-of-17 shooting to lead @japanbasketball 🇯🇵 past the @TallBlacks 🇳🇿 99-89 in their #FIBAWC preparation game! 🔥🔥🔥- Basketball World Cup (@FIBAWC) August 12, 2019
Could Hachimura end up leading the #FIBAWC in scoring❓🤔
Watanabe, who is recovering from an ankle injury, is currently signed to a two-way contract with the Memphis Grizzlies. He appeared in two Summer League Games in 2019, averaging 13.5 points (on 50.0% shooting) and 5.5 rebounds per game. He returned from injury in Japan's exhibition loss to New Zealand, scoring six points in 10 minutes.
In addition to the Big Three, Yudai Baba has something of an NBA pedigree, having appeared in four games with the Mavericks this summer, posting averages of 4.0 points (on 50.0% shooting) and 2.3 rebounds.
Led by Hachimura, this Japanese team could be very entertaining while in China.