Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Global Scope: 2014 FIBA World Cup

I think that everyone knows that 2014 is the year of the FIFA World Cup hosted in Brazil. However, maybe overshadowed by the FIFA event, not many people remember that this year is also a FIBA World Cup year. The FIBA World Cup, as well as the Olympics, are the top two international basketball tournaments. This year's event will be held in Spain in six venues located in six different cities. The host cities are Madrid, Barcelona, Granada, Bilbao, Seville, and Las Palmas with an emphasis on Madrid and Barcelona. The group stages will be played out throughout all six venues, but from the Round of 16 on only Madrid and Barcelona will host games, with the grand finale set to be played at Madrid's Palacio de Deportes.

The first phase separates countries into four groups of 6 teams with four teams advancing from each group into the knockout stages, beginning with the Round of 16. This year's group selections were just announced this Monday and they are set like this (Under parentheses are Championship years):

Group A: Spain (2006), Serbia (Yugoslavia 1970/78/90/98/02), France, Brazil (1959/63), Egypt, Iran

Group B: Philippines, Senegal, Puerto Rico, Argentina (1950), Greece, Croatia

Group C: Dominican Republic, Turkey, USA (1954/86/94/10), Finland, New Zealand, Ukraine

Group D: Lithuania, Angola, South Korea, Slovenia, Mexico, Australia

USA, the reigning champions, will come into the tournament as the world's top ranked team after winning back to back Olympic gold medals. FIBA World Cup 2010 finalist Turkey has been placed in the same group as the United States as well, which means that there will be a rematch of the 2010 final. The teams that have a decent chance of challenging the United States for the world's top spot in Spain however are the hosts themselves, led by NBA Defensive Player of the year Marc Gasol and sharp shooter Juan Carlos Navarro, and France. The French will be coming into the World championship after winning FIBA's Eurobasketball tournament in 2013 having defeated heavy favorites Spain in an Overtime thriller where Tony Parker recorded 32 points and led his Bleus into the final stage. They went on to beat Lithuania in the final game where Nicolas Batum put up 17 points leading all French scorers. 

Other than the two European powerhouses there are always a few teams that could maybe upset a title contender, such as the USA, in one of the knockout stages. I would put on that list Argentina, even though they are experiencing the end of a glorious era led by Manu Ginobili. With the addition of players such as Scola, Nocioni, Prigioni, and Oberto they won the Olympic gold medal at the '04 games, making the USA one of their main victims. I would add to that list Greece, Brazil, and Serbia as well. The Greeks haven't been the same after falling to Spain in the championship game at the 2006 World games in Saitama, but as long as they have back-to-back Euroleague MVP Vassilis Spanoulis running the floor they will be a dangerous opponent. Brazil and Serbia are always going to be relevant when discussing basketball at the global stage, with both nations combining for 7 world championships. However, the South Americans made history last year by not qualifying to the world cup through the Americas Championship and having to rely on an invitation from FIBA that was only made official last weekend. In order to make a true impact in Spain this year, the 2-time World Champions and their star point guard Marcelo Huertas will need all the help they can get. This means that NBA big men Tiago Splitter, Anderson Varejao, and Nene Hilario will have to be added into the roster in order for them to possibly have a meaningufl run in the Knockout stages. The Serbians, led by 6'5 point guard Milos Teodosic are in much better shape than their South American opponents but the emergence of Goran Dragic's Slovenian squad could threaten the Eastern European basketball hierarchy. 

Ironically the teams that won FIBA's continental tournaments aren't really title contenders at basketball's global stage. An astounding Mexican team led by Atlanta Hawks' starting center Gustavo Ayon won the FIBA Americas Championship by going against all odds and defeating powerhouses such as Brazil and Argentina. In Africa, Angola defeated Egypt by 17 points in the final game and Carlos Morais took home MVP honors as well as an invitation to the Raptors' training camp (he ended up getting cut). Emerging as the Asian champions were the Iranians led by an outstanding Hamed Haddadi, who scored 29 points in leading his squad past the Philippines in a final matchup that ended with a score of 85-71. The reigning champions of the FIBA Oceania Championship, Australia, beat their only rivals New Zealand after a couple of 20-point Patty Mills performances. 

Also, this year's tournament will mark the last event hosted on the current quadrennial schedule. Rescheduled from 2018 to 2019 the next edition of the FIBA World Cup will finally not overlap with the FIFA World Cup. Another major change is that the group stage will be expanded from 24 to 32 teams, with different qualification standards and tournaments to be played out. The format moving on from 2014 will be very similar to the one FIFA uses for qualifying teams for the World Cup.

If anyone is interested in learning about the FIBA World Championships in a lot more depth, the tournament's main website is a good place to start. See you in Spain!
Kevis Georgakopoulos Pinto is a native of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and is working toward his undergraduate degree in Sport Management at Drexel University. In the past three years, since moving to the United States, Kevis has been very active in entering the sports business world. He has gained experience in doing research at the UEFA Euro 2012 tournament in Poland as well as interning at Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia's marketing department.  Follow Kevis on Twitter @kevisgp.

Connect with Kevis Pinto on LinkedIn. 


  1. I hope Brazil´s team will play better and be well organized for this tournament, because as you well put it, they had to rely on an invitation to be on this tournament. Brazil played terrible and did not qualify for the World Cup, it was a shame, lets hope they learned their lesson.

  2. Brazil FIFA World Cup Football 2014 is the 20th world cup. Can't wait till 12th June. I just wanna say i am a big fan of your blogs. there is plenty of information which i really wanted to read about FIFA World Cup Football Games.