Turkey, US, Czech Republic and Japan matchup in World Cup

Tall Blacks head coach Paul Henare has welcomed New Zealand's tough draw at the 2019 FIBA World Cup

Saturday's draw in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen pitted a biggest-ever 32 teams from five continents and placed the United States of America in Group E in Shanghai alongside the Czechs, minnows Japan and Turkey - the team the U.S. beat in the 2010 final. The tournament begins in China on August 31st.

Group leaders and runners-up will qualify for the World Cup's second round. "We are a very young team".

He added that drawing the U.S.in the group stage might serve as an advantage for avoiding meeting them in later rounds.

Serbia, which was the losing finalist in the 2014 Fiba World Cup and is ranked fourth-best in the world, is the favorite to rule Group D.

"This is always an exciting part of the journey to a World Cup, to finally find out who we will play and begin to put our plans in place", Henare said. But it remains to be seen if anyone will be ready for the Americans.

France, ranked third in the world behind top-rated US and then Spain, are in Group G with the Dominican Republic, Jordan and European rivals Germany.

Shea Ili on the drive for the Tall Blacks
SuppliedShea Ili on the drive for the Tall Blacks

The U.S. roster won't be decided until after the National Basketball Association season, although James Harden has expressed his desire to play.

"As a basketball player, that's one of the highest points you can get for basketball". "Obviously, you've got the National Basketball Association and you have winning a championship and all that good stuff, but with this, you're not just playing for your respective cities or where you're from, you're playing for an entire country you represent. So, it's pretty awesome to be a part of it".

"I think about that all the time", Popovich said.

New Zealand are ranked 38th in the world, Greece are eighth, Brazil 12th and Montenegro 28th. The 32 teams that qualified for the event were all placed into one of eight groups during the draw that was held in Shenzhen, China, on Saturday.

The top two from each group will go into the second round in China. The group will be played in Dongguan. "But it's going to be fun".

Group C consists of Spain, Iran, Puerto Rico and Tunisia.

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Canada will cross over with the top two teams from Group G (Dominican Republic, France, Germany, Jordan) if they are able to advance to the 2nd round.

Host China is in the easiest group, Group A - where no team is now ranked higher than No. 20. The Chinese are paired with Venezuela, Poland and Ivory Coast.

Lithuania will enter the World Cup with a world rank of 6th overall, Australia will enter with a rank of 11th after just falling outside the top 10 in the latest FIBA World Ranking list.

If Canada finishes first or second among teams in the Americas zone, they will qualify directly for 2020's Tokyo Olympic Games.

The other four will reach Tokyo through qualifying tournaments over the next year. Bryant said he expects competition to be stiff.

"It's a greater sense of honor to be playing for your country", Bryant said.

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On August 31 they play Australia in the opening game of Group H. Lithuania will be their next opponents on September 2nd and they'll round out their first three games with Senegal on September 4th.

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