FIBA World Cup Odds, Best Bets Today: Expert Picks for Dominican Republic vs. Puerto Rico (September 1)
Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images. Pictured: Christopher Ortiz #32 (L) and Arnaldo Toro Barea #41 of Puerto Rico celebrate after the FIBA Basketball World Cup.
We're onto Round 2 of the FIBA World Cup with another eight-game slate of matchups Friday. Our Action Network analysts — Brandon Anderson, Joe Dellera and Bryan Fonseca — have been all over the first week of games and they gave out a bunch picks for Friday's games and the tournament in the latest episode of the BUCKETS podcast.
Check our experts' analysis and best bets for Friday's FIBA World Cup slate below.
Brandon Anderson: Serbia has really breezed through group play so far.
Even without Nikola Jokic, and in what looked like a tricky, competitive group, Serbia has coasted to wins with margins of 42 points, 17 points, and 32 points. Stefan Jovic is lighting up the assist boards (shouts Joe on that +400 call!) and this team is playing like a well-oiled machine. I think Serbia could be a real threat to make the final round if they keep this up.
I’m not sure Italy will be as stern a test as this line implies. Are we sure this Italian team is as good as usual? This feels like a team in transition, and we’ve seen that in the results, particularly in their poor shooting. Italy lost a close one to the Dominican Republic, and they barely even beat the 0-3 host Philippines in the finale.
Italy is scrappy and finds a way to hang around, and they beat this team by a point earlier this month in the run up to the World Cup, but I’ll trust Serbia to pull away late like they’ve done so far.
Pick: Serbia -7.5
Joe Dellera: One of the issues with Team USA is they are relatively undersized with Jaren Jackson Jr. playing center and the resistance to playing Walker Kessler for extended minutes outside of garbage time. This has not truly been exposed yet as the Americans have not played a significant NBA talent on the interior.
Enter Nikola Vucevic. Vucevic has destroyed JJJ in head-to-head matchups. He has averaged 13 rebounds per game and has never recorded fewer than 10 in five career matchups.
I expect Vucevic to continue that success in this spot and control the glass in this game even if Team USA wins handily. I initially grabbed this at 7.5, but 8.5 is fine as well at 10+ at the plus number.
Pick: Nikola Vucevic Over 8.5 Rebounds | 10+ (+160)
Bryan Fonseca: My Puerto Ricans should not win this game, but if you know anything about their rivalry with the Dominican Republic – regardless of sport – these games are often close.
The most likely scenario that we get a close matchup between a PR vs. DR is with Puerto Rico’s 3-point shooting against drop coverage. The Boricuas are shooting 41% from three during the World Cup, third behind only Serbia and Canada among teams still alive in Round 2. They’ve shot at least 35.7% in all three contests so far, including a 16-of-34 display in their 18-point win over China to end Round 1.
The Dominican Republic? They hit 41% of their 3s against Italy, but just 20% and 21.4% against Angola and the Philippines, respectively, and are just 29.3% from deep – only Italy is worst (28.7%) among alive teams.
I’m not sure Puerto Rico can shoot their way to a win, but I like them to shoot their way to a cover behind the accuracy of Tremont Waters, Stephen Thompson Jr, Chris Ortiz, Jordan Howard and others.
Pick: Puerto Rico +9.5 (+105)
Anderson: Why are we still giving Greece this much credit?
This team was no test for the Americans in group play, and they barely made this stage at all, struggling to put away a very mediocre New Zealand squad in the finale. Greece has toughness but not a ton of finesse, and I think they’re one of the worst teams left in the winner’s side of the bracket.
Lithuania is a proud basketball nation with two top-four finishes at the World Cup and five at the Olympics in the last three decades. This is a well-coached team that adds up to more than the sum of its parts. And they won’t have any issues with the Greeks’ physicality with Jonas Valanciunas and Donatas Motiejunas manning the paint.
Expect Lithuania to win the battle on the interior, and if they do, this thing is a wrap.
This line feels like a gift. Lithuania has won its three games by at least 20, and this matchup feels a bit similar to a Montenegro team they just cruised past. This is my favorite side of the tournament so far. Expect Lithuania to cruise to another double-digit win.