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US opt for youth at basketball world title
  • | AFP | August 28, 2010 01:31 PM

The United States will rely on youth as they attempt to claim back the world crown without many of their National Basketball Association stars, when the FIBA World Championship begins in Turkey on Saturday.

US basketball player Andre Iguodala gestures during a friendly match against Lithuania at La Caja Magica pavillion in Madrid on August 21, 2010. Having regained the Olympic crown in Beijing two years ago, the Americans are now out to reclaim the FIBA World Championship title, something they have not held since 1994.

Twenty-four teams will compete for the crown in four cities across Turkey with Spain, Argentina, Serbia and Greece tagged as the best chances to knock over the Americans.

Having regained the Olympic crown in Beijing two years ago, the Americans are now out to reclaim the world title, something they have not held since 1994.

With a number of the Olympic squad members, such as Lebron James, Dwyane Wade and Kobe Bryant opting out of the national program after a long NBA season, coach Mike Krzyzewski has opted for youth with five players in his line up aged just 21.

He has done so with an eye to the 2012 Olympics in London, developing young players here to compliment some of his Beijing squad members who he is hoping will return to defend their crown.

"We\'re not going to get the same guys over and over," said Krzyzewski.

"Like the guys who were on the Olympics team. We think a lot of those guys will come back for London - a number of them but not all of them. So we\'re trying to develop a culture."

After beginning their pre-tournament buildup sluggishly with a below par performance against a doggish Lithuanian side, the Americans are coming to the fore at the right time, overwhelming an under strength Greece in Athens on Wednesday evening to complete their buildup.

The buildup also included a game against their potential main rivals for the title in Turkey, European champions Spain.

Spain go into the tournament with a near full strength lineup including the most talked about future star of the game in Ricky Rubio.

However, like most teams they are down at least one marquee player with last year\'s Eurobasket MVP Pau Gasol opting to sit out the tournament.

Against the United States, Spain showed they have the game to match the Americans, pushing them to the edge, only to fall by a point.

It was not to be Rubio\'s night, having his potential three-point winning shot blocked by the US future superstar, Kevin Durant.

Greece and Argentina have perhaps been the least affected by player withdrawal, both arriving in Turkey with formidable squads.

Not too much should be read into Greece\'s heavy defeat to the United States on Wednesday with key players rested following a strenuous buildup.

Argentina have looked strong in the buildup, arriving in Turkey early to participate in a local tournament in which they edged hosts Turkey in overtime in Monday evening\'s final.

Spain and the United States are not the only sides missing their marquee players with France and China the two hardest-hit sides.

France go to Turkey without as many as five frontline players including NBA superstar Tony Parker, while China will struggle with the absence of national hero Yao Ming, who continues to battle injuries.

Serbia may be without one of their stars for an altogether different reason following an all in brawl that broke out between the Serbs and Greece in a warm up game in Athens last Thursday.

Serb Nenad Krstic is now facing a potential ban, after hitting a Greek opponent with a chair. If FIBA decide to discipline Krstic it could severely dent the Eurobasket runners up chances of making the podium in Turkey.

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