It’s not meant to be a contest, more a coronation, when the mighty United States face Serbia in Sunday’s FIBA World Cup final in Madrid.
The defending champions, unbeaten since 2006, are averaging 101.5 points per game, 20 more than their opponents.
Only once here, against Turkey, have they won by less than 20. And with athleticism and talent in abundance, plus an extra days rest since routing Lithuania in the semis, it all points to the Star Spangled Banner getting hoisted on high.
Which is why Serbia is a massive 12.00 to pull out the mother of all upsets with the USA favoured at -21.5 on the handicap at 1.95.
And why, as battling and brave as the underdogs are, it’s impossible to forecast anything than another rout. Certainly, the luxury that Sasha Djordjevic has in rotating his playmakers, sometimes using the wily Milos Teodosic or the rangier Nemanja Bjelica will pose some questions of the USA’s occasionally ragged perimeter defense.
It might even make it worth a punt on the Serbians to be first to 20 points at 4.20 if they get hot early or on Bjelica to score 10 points or more at 1.85. We have nothing to lose,” Teodosic said. “But we’re not going in there just to play. This is a final. We will be motivated."
The biggest problem? We’ve consistently seen that even on their more challenging days, the athleticism of the Americans has been overwhelming in the third quarters.
It’s not the kind of dominance that FIBA would have wished to see as they try to build up their premier tournament into a rival, or even a better version, of the Olympic Games.
Worryingly, this is arguably the weakest squad sent by the States since the NBA bought into international competition over two decades ago but the gulf looks still as wide. Any hopes that Spain would provide a real challenge were assassinated in their shock quarter-final exit to France. It has, otherwise, been one-way traffic.
The MVP award could be the biggest question of all on Sunday. Rightly, the USA duo of Kenneth Faried and Anthony Davis are the two hot favourites and they should get plenty of opportunities to go inside.
But it is likely to be a shooter who stands out, with James Harden at 8.00 a solid bet – unless the voting process drags Spain’s Pau Gasol (6.00) into the frame. Either way, picking a winner is the easy part. It seems, not a question of whom, but by how much.
Bet of the Day: Back the USA on a handicap of -26.5 at 2.90 to lift the World Cup