2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup Group A Preview, Prediction, Roster, Schedule: Spain and Brazil To Clinch Top 2 Spots, France, Serbia, And Iran To Battle For Remaining Slots

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By Mark Wayne Eubank | August 28, 2014 8:23 PM EST

Spain and Brazil are perceived to be the favourites to clinch the top two spots in Group A of the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup, while France, Serbia, and Iran will battle to survive, and get through to the knockout stages.

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
United States guard James Harden (13) is defended by Brazil center Tiago Splitter (15) during the second half at the United Center. The United States defeated Brazil 95-78.

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In international competitions, the team with a stronger frontcourt has the edge most of the times, unless it is fortunate enough to have super athletes like LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, both of whom can play multiple positions and take advantage of any given match-up.

With that said, the predictions made on this article is essentially based on the strength of each team's big men.

Spain

It's a no-brainer that the hosts will easily coast through the group and take the number 1 spot, boasting a core of six NBA players, among others, with the Gasol brothers and Serge Ibaka leading the way.

However, it cannot be negated that their non-NBA counterparts are also top-calibre players in their own right. 
In fact, most of them have already tried plying their trade in America's top-tier league, with Juan Carlos Navarro and Rudy Fernandez as the more notable names.

Guards: Juan Carlos Navarro, Ricky Rubio, Sergio Llull, Sergio Rodriguez, Jose Calderon

Forwards: Rudy Fernandez, Pau Gasol, Victor Claver, Serge Ibaka

Centers: Feliper Reyes, Marc Gasol

Brazil

The South Americans' lack of quality outside manpower is compensated by the presence of Tiago Splitter, Nene, and Anderson Varejao.

Nene may be better equipped skills-wise among the three, but Splitter and Varejao provides a steady presence on the defensive end, but are also strong and agile enough to dominate the boards on the offensive end to create second-chance opportunities.

Raulzinho Neto will provide the needed fresh legs for their aging backcourt, while Leandro Barbosa and Marcelinho Huertas are there to afford the team composure insofar as orchestrating is concerned.

Guards: Marcelo Machado, Raulzinho Neto, Larry Taylor, Alex Garcia, Marcelinho Huertas, Leandro Barbosa

Forwards: Rafael Hettsheimer, Guilherme Giovannoni, Nene, Marquinhos Vieira

Centers: Anderson Varejao, Tiago Splitter

France

While the French may be the holders of the 2013 EuroBasket, the absence of superstar Tony Parker apparently had a glaring impact on their performance.

They are still in the process of finding their go-to-guy as of yet, with Nic Batum trying to take on such role.

Nevertheless, France has all the tools to go the distance in this competition, having NBA-based players in Batum, Boris Diaw, and Evan Fournier, among others. It's just a matter of recognizing and capitalizing their strengths.

Guards: Thomas Huertel, Antoine Diot, Evan Fournier

Forwards: Nicolas Batum, Charles Kahudi, Edwin Jackson, Florent Pietrus, Boris Diaw

Centers: Joffrey Lauvergne, Rudy Gobert, Ian Mahinmi, Mickael Gelabale

Serbia

The Serbs will be relying on their Europe-based players, with Namanja Bjelica and veteran Nenad Krstic manning the shaded area.

However, they will heavily bank on the backcourt duo of former European Player of the Year Milos Teodosic and 2014 Euroleague Rising Star Bogdan Bogdanovic to take on the scoring cudgels.

Ranked 11th in the world, Serbia may be able to give powerhouse teams a run for their money as their system is centered around good ball movement and finding the open man, which leads to higher percentage shot attempts.

Guards: Milos Teodosic, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Stefan Govic, Stefan Markovic

Forwards: Marko Simonovic, Nemanja Bjelica, Nikola Kalinic, Stefan Bircevic

Centers: Nenad Krstic, Miroslav Raduljica, Rasko Katic, Vladimir Stimac

Iran

The FIBA Asia champions might be able to surprise the group by taking the final spot.

Hammed Haddadi has the experience to compete with opposing big men, while his teammates seem to have the skills and the size to put up a resistance.

In any case, they will have to bring their "A game" in each game, should they want to exceed expectations.

Guards: Sajjad Mashayeki, Behnam Yakhchali, Mahdi Kamrani, Hamed Afagh

Forwards: Arsalan Kazemi, Oshin Sahakian, Arman Zangeneh, Mohammad Jamshidi, Sammad Nikkah Bahrami

Centers: Rouzbeh Arghavan, Asghar Kardoust, Hamed Haddadi

Check FIBA's official website to view the competition's full schedule.

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(Photo: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports / )
United States guard James Harden (13) is defended by Brazil center Tiago Splitter (15) during the second half at the United Center. The United States defeated Brazil 95-78.
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