FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Schedule: Where to Watch Team USA vs. Czech Republic, Live Stream, Team News, Latest Odds

Team USA's quest to become the first team to win three world titles in a row begins on Saturday, when it takes on the Czech Republic in Shanghai, China.

The Americans are two-time defending champions and odds-on favorite to claim a third consecutive FIBA World Cup, despite a roster somewhat short of star quality compared to previous tournaments.

James Harden, Anthony Davis, Damian Lillard, Kyle Lowry, CJ McCollum and Bradley Beal all withdrew before the tournament, while Kyle Kuzma was ruled out with an ankle injury last week.

Much as coach Gregg Popovich might try to argue otherwise, this is very much a USA B-team. In Kemba Walker and Khris Middleton, to name but two, it has some brilliant players, but neither is quite what would be considered an elite-level NBA superstar.

Walker is the only All-Star guard in the team this year, compared to the 2016 Olympics when Team USA boasted the likes of Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson, DeMar DeRozan and Jimmy Butler.

The Americans might remain favorite but are eminently beatable, as Australia showed last week when it ended Team USA's 78-game winning streak.

The Czech Republic, Team USA's first opponent in Group E, arrives at the tournament with completely different expectations. Ranked 14th in the world, the Czechs are making their World Cup debut as an independent nation after qualifying third in the European group.

Coach Ronen Ginzburg's best-laid plans, however, were scuppered by a knee injury that ruled Jan Vesely out of the tournament. The 29-year-old center, who spent three seasons with the Washington Wizards, is a key figure for the Czechs and his absence will put even more pressure on the shoulders of Tomas Satoransky.

The three-time Czech Player of the Year is a familiar face to NBA fans after spending three seasons with the Wizards, who traded him to the Chicago Bulls last month.

Here's everything you need to know ahead of Team USA's first game of the tournament.

Kemba Walker, Team USA
Kemba Walker #26 waits on defense with Harrison Barnes #24 and Mason Plumlee #35 of the United States in a 90-81 win over Spain during an exhibition game at Honda Center on August 16 in Anaheim, California. Harry How/Getty

When and where is the game?

The defending champions make their tournament debut on Saturday, September 1 when they face the Czech Republic at the Shanghai Oriental Sports Center.

The game tips off at 8:30 p.m. local time (8:30 a.m. ET).

The arena will host every Group E game, beginning with Turkey vs. Japan earlier at 4:30 a.m. ET on Saturday. Team USA is back in action on Monday against Turkey and two days later against Japan.

TV channel

The FIBA World Cup will not be broadcast on TV in the U.S., but there are plenty of other ways to keep up with the action.

Live stream

Live stream for every game of the 2019 FIBA World Cup will be available via ESPN+.

Odds

According to data compiled by Oddschecker, Team USA is a 32.5-point favorite and is 17/20 to win and cover the spread.

Team news

The good news for Gregg Popovich is that he can count of a full roster ahead of the tournament opener. Team USA's preparations were dealt a blow last week when Los Angeles Lakers guard Kyle Kuzma was ruled out on Sunday with an ankle injury, but there are no other concerns going into the game against the Czech Republic.

Aside from Vesely's absence, the Czechs are also at full strength.

FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Schedule: Where to Watch Team USA vs. Czech Republic, Live Stream, Team News, Latest Odds | Sports