Aug. 11, 2006 -- In the last week, NBA.com has taken a close look at some of the most visible squads at the 2006 FIBA World Championship. There was the reigning World champs, Serbia & Montenegro, whose national team was hit by turmoil in recent years and is looking to get back on track with a youth movement. There was the reigning Olympic champs, Argentina, who have had more roster stability on their roster over the last four years than perhaps any other national team.

Finally, we looked at Spain and France, both of whom not only have stars to build around -- Pau Gasol and Tony Parker -- but the outside talent to support them. Next NBA.com looks at the remaining teams in the 2006 FIBA World Championship with the best chances to medal in Japan.


Andrew Bogut
Stuart Hannagan/Getty


Yao Ming
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty


Dirk Nowitzki
Bongarts/Getty


Gianluca Basile
Jesse Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty


Darius Songaila
Jamie Squire/Getty


Primoz Brezec
Kent Horner/NBAE/Getty

Australia

Bucks' 2005 No. 1 NBA Draft pick Andrew Bogut leads the way. With former Aussie stars Andrew Gaze and Shane Heal retired, Bogut is the captain of the ship now. 6-6 swingman Sam Mackinnon is a good athlete 6-2 guard C.J. Bruton was selected by the Grizzlies in the second round of 1997 NBA Draft. 6-10 forward Daniel Kickert starred at in the NCAA at St. Mary's. NBA scouts will be watching 21-year-old small forward Brad Newley. Swingman Jason Smith is a defensive stopper.

Brazil

Squad reached the semifinals in seven of the first eight editions of the FIBA World Championship, but it's been 20 years since they made the semifinals. They threw a scare at the U.S. in the China Basketball Challenge, losing 90-86. ... Brazilian backcourt includes Suns guard Leandro Barbosa and former Hornets and Spurs guard Alex Garcia. 6-7 sharpshooter Marcelinho Machado led the Brazil in scoring (20.9 ppg) at the 2002 FIBA World Championship. Cavaliers pivot Anderson Varejao and NBA prospect Tiago Splitter will attempt to help fill the void at center, as centers Nene and Rafael Araujo won't be with the team.

China

7-1 forward Wang Zhizhi, who played parts of five seasons in the NBA, is back with the Chinese National Team after a four-year absence and will help take the pressure off of Yao Ming. Yao averaged 20.7 points and 9.3 rebounds per game in Athens but appeared frustrated at times with the swarming double and triple teams. The Rockets All-Star plans to play in FIBA World Championship after suffering a season-ending fractured left foot against the Jazz April 11. NBA prospect Yi Jianlian and Du Feng, teammates on Guangdong Southern Tigers, boost the frontline. 6-3 guard Liu Wei was a member of the Sacramento Kings' preseason team in 2004, and 6-10 forward Mo Ke and 6-9 guard Sun Yue are a pair of young talents.

Germany

Finished in second place in the 2005 European Championship. Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki led all scorers (26.7 ppg) in the tournament, and was the second-leading rebounder (10.8 rpg) and shot blocker (1.8 bpg), earning him MVP honors. The team's strength is its frontline with four former NCAA stars on the roster North Carolina 6-8 forward Ademola Okulaja, Washington 7-1 center Patrick Femerling, Penn State 7-0 center Jan Jagla, and 6-9 Hawaii forward Julian Sensley. The backcourt player to watch is 5-11 point guard Pascal Roller, a longtime member of the German National Team.

Greece

Concluded an improbable 2005 European Championship run with a convincing 78-62 victory over Germany to win the gold medal last Sept. Finished fifth in the 2004 Olympic Games. Team has no players who competed in the NBA last year, but guard Vassilis Spanoulis signed with the Rockets this summer. Forward Antonios Fotsis played one season with the Memphis Grizzlies ('01-02). 6-7 Theodoros Papaloukas, a member of CSKA Moscow, was named to the 2005 European Championship All-Tournament team along with point guard Dimitrios Diamantidis. 6-11 Lazaros Papadopoulos is a skilled center who matched up handsomely with Tim Duncan in Athens.

Italy

Took home the silver medal at the 2004 Olympics, much to everyone's surprise. Reality set in at the 2005 European Championships, when they placed in the 9-12 finishers. Guard Gianluca Basile proved to by huge in Athens, and will try to be the same in Japan. 6-11 veteran center Denis Marconato, who has experience with the Wizards summer league team, is a top-notch rebounder. A trio of young talents in guard Marco Belinelli, forward Stefano Mancinelli and forward Angelo Gigili could play key roles. Raptors No. 1 draft pick Andrea Bargnani elected to not make the trip to Japan.

Lithuania

Absent from the team that took fourth place in the 2004 Olympics includes Athens stars Sarunas Jasikevicius, Ramunas Siskauskas and Saulius Stombergas. Former Hornets guard Arvydas Macijauskas will shoulder the bulk of the scoring load with Wizards forward Darius Songaila and Nuggets forward Linas Kleiza. Twin brothers Ksystof and Darjus Lavrinovic are a pair of hard-nosed centers who could spell trouble for the opposition.

Puerto Rico

Orlando Magic point guard Carlos Arroyo sets the tone. Team has a set of twin towers in Wizards 7-3 center Peter John Ramos and 7-1 former NBA veteran Daniel Santiago. Former Hofstra star Rick Apodaca and onetime Spurs guard Elias Ayuso round out perimeter attack. Pivot Jose Ortiz, a member of the national team for 18 years, retired from the team following the Athens Games.

Slovenia

Despite not being on a lot of radar screens, Slovenia seem poised for a medal run if they can harness their talent. Didn't even qualify for the 2004 Olympics, but they have five active NBA players and several with NBA experience. Finished just sixth at the 2005 European Championships. Roster includes Charlotte center Primoz Brezec, Nets forward Bostjan Nachbar, Raptors forward Uros Slokar, Spurs guard Beno Udrih and Raptors center Radoslav Nesterovic. Guard Sani Becirovic was selected in the second round of the 2003 Draft by the Denver. High scoring 5-9 guard Jaka Lakovic played with the Celtics summer league team. Marko Milic played two years in the NBA with the Suns.