Australia has Finland outnumbered in terms of NBA-level talent, but the latter arguably has the best player on both teams in Lauri Markkanen. Can they steal one on the Aussies?
Catch the game tomorrow, August 25th, at 4:00 PM, Manila time.
Projected starting five:
- Josh Giddey
- Patty Mills
- Josh Green
- Matisse Thybulle
- Nick Kay
As one of the premier teams in the qualifiers, the Aussies showcased as expected. They barely broke a sweat, and proceeded to go a group-leading 11-1 in the qualifying rounds. They will now strut their stuff to the court knowing they have a healthy dose of NBA players.
Elite talent is basically at every position, particularly in the guard and wing position with Josh Giddey, Patty Mills, Josh Green, and Matisse Thybulle. There’s a bit of everything in that collection – playmaking by Giddey, shooting by Mills, and prototype wing ‘3 and D’ presence by Green and Thybulle. Veteran point guard Chris Goulding is also on the roster, and he’ll provide floor leadership and facilitation.
Giddey, who’s one of the anticipated youngsters in the Oklahoma City Thunder team, will have the biggest spotlight since he’s constantly progressing and his play covers multiple facets of the game. Keep an eye out on this kid as he can control the contest.
Projected starting five:
- Jacob Grandison
- Oliver Nkhamhoua /Sasu Salin
- Alex Murphy
- Lauri Markkanen
- Miro Little
Finland finished (pun not intended) with a 9-3 record in the European qualifiers under Group J, only trailing Germany. Their performance was good, but it has become more interesting since they are now riding the wave of a more confident Lauri Markkanen, also the top forward for the Utah Jazz.
Markkanen became a first-time NBA All-Star this past February and ended the 2022-23 season rocking a career-best 25.6 points per game on a smooth 49.9% shooting – such scoring and shooting efficiency are only done by a really good ‘stretch four.’ Momentum is overflowing, and you could feel that he’s pumped to prove himself further as a serious talent in the NBA. What better way to do it than lead your unheralded country into a World Cup title?
It’s no secret that Lauri will not have a lot to work with compared to others since his supporting cast – Oliver Nkhamhoua, Alex Murphy, Jacob Grandison, Sasu Salin, and Miro Little – are NCAA role players at best. However, crazier things have happened in the World Cup, and this crop is certainly capable of bringing surprises.
Handicap: Finland puts up a fight, but in the end, Australia (-10.5) wins and covers the spread.
Over/Under: The total goes over 168.