FIBA World Cup Odds, Best Bets Today: Expert Picks for Slovenia vs. Cape Verde, Greece vs. New Zealand (August 30)
Takashi Aoyama/Getty Images. Pictured: Luka Doncic #77 of Slovenia looks on during the FIBA Basketball World Cup.
The first round off the FIBA World Cup concludes Wednesday with another eight-game slate.
Our Action Network analysts — Brandon Anderson, Joe Dellera and Bryan Fonseca — are betting multiple matchups in Wednesday morning's slate, including a player prop for Slovenia vs. Cape Verde and the spread in Greece vs. New Zealand.
Read on for their FIBA World Cup best bets below.
Brandon Anderson: The coolest story at this year’s World Cup is South Sudan, and with all due respect to the other 31 competing nations, I don’t think it’s particularly close.
South Sudan did not qualify for the last World Cup in 2019, nor the previous one in 2014. They did not play in any of the World Cups before that either. In fact, this was not even a sovereign nation until 2011!
When the nation became an independent state, potential 2025 lottery pick Khaman Maluach was just four years old. He’s now 16, stands 7-foot-2 and he made his World Cup debut for South Sudan on Monday. The youngest player in competition history even got into the scorebooks as South Sudan recorded its first win in dominant fashion, beating Kyle Anderson and China by a resounding 20 points!
But this team is still up against it, because South Sudan lost an overtime heartbreaker to Puerto Rico in the opener. They’re playing for their tournament lives and won't go down without a fight.
Serbia has effectively advanced, as long as they don’t lose by double digits, so they may not be as motivated here. Besides, Nikola Jokic is home watching, so this isn't as dominant a team as expected with just Bogdan Bogdanovic and Stefan Jovic leading the way.
The heart wants what it wants. Give me South Sudan to cover, and darn it if I won’t nibble the +1100 moneyline too. Do you believe in miracles?!
Pick: South Sudan +16.5
Joe Dellera: Luka Doncic has been a wrecking ball throughout the World Cup with averages of 35.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and six assists in two victories. However, with great usage comes great (ball) responsibility and Doncic remains turnover prone, even in FIBA.
During the most recent NBA season, Doncic averaged 3.6 turnovers per game, which actually lowered his career mark to 4.0 per game. In international play, Doncic has two, four and five turnovers this year and has had two or more in 13 of his past 14 contests, while averaging 3.9 per game over that stretch.
The spread in this game is significant (26.5), but Doncic’s tremendous usage should still allow for a few errant passes if he gets a bit too flashy in a game where the overall record still matters because Group Stage points carry over into the next round.
Pick: Luka Doncic Over 1.5 Turnovers (-140)
Bryan Fonseca: Who does China have that can guard Tremont Waters?
Waters is Puerto Rico’s leader and, more often than not, its best player. He’s only shooting 8-for-29 with 28 points, including 19 against South Sudan, in FIBA.
So, why am I going over? Because Serbia and South Sudan both have defensive elements that China lacks.
To disrupt the speedy, 5-foot-10 combo guard, South Sudan had length and athleticism. Serbia had length and I.Q. And, to be fair, Waters missed a few shots here and there that he typically doesn't.
China is one of the worst teams in this World Cup, even with Kyle Anderson as its naturalized player. I anticipate Waters to bounce back and lead Puerto Rico to victory, and to Round 2 of the World Cup.
Pick: Tremont Waters over 16.5 points (+100)
Fonseca: I don’t love this Greece team at all. I think, even with Giannis Antetokounmpo, it’s possible they’d lose in Round 2, as they did in 2019.
This team beat Jordan by 21 in game one and were out early against Team USA.
Now, New Zealand isn’t awesome either. They again don’t have Steven Adams or Thomas Abercrombie. Rob Loe retired and Corey and Tai Webster are also out.
So why bet New Zealand, a team that needed overtime to beat Jordan?
This spread is just too big for a Greek team against a New Zealand team that’s going to play hard every minute. Izayah Le’afa is a quality shotmaker and proved himself during the New Zealand Breakers’ run to the NBL Grand Final last year. From there, he's been on a team from 3, shooting over 43% and averaging 16 points per game in the World Cup.
Greece may win, but I think it’ll be closer than some expect.