Finland and Australia go head-to-head in their opening match of the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup on Friday at 9am (UK time).
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Group E has been labelled the ‘Group of death’ with Australia and Finland being drawn alongside Germany and Japan, making a winning start to the 2023 FIBA World Cup even more imperative if either side want to advance to the second round.
Having finishing fourth in the previous tournament back in 2019, after a 67-59 defeat to France in the third place game, Australia will be hoping to go one step further in 2023 and reach the final for the first time in their history. The Boomers finally ended their last-16 hoodoo in China after failing to get past that stage in 2006, 2010 and 2014, when they threw away a 12-point third quarter lead to Turkey, eventually losing 64-65 and will be hoping for another semi-final appearance at least this time around.
Finland, who are playing in just their second FIBA World Cup tournament after picking up just one win from their five matches in 2014, will be underdogs in Group E, but that could go in their favour. The Fins qualified for the tournament having finished as runners-up in Group J to Germany in the second round (who they face again during the tournament) having won nine of their 12 matches after finishing top of their four team group in the first round.
The hopes of the nation fall on the shoulders of Lauri Markkanen, who became the first ever player born in a Nordic country to be named an NBA All-Star and was named the 2022/23 NBA Most Improved Player after an impressive season with Utah Jazz where he averaged a career high of 1.9 assists per game.
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