Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The FIBA World Cup of Basketball

Every four years, the Federation Internationale de Basket-ball ("FIBA") sponsors its world championship.  We Americans have never taken this tournament very seriously, as our focus is usually on the Summer Olympics.  As a result, the US of A has won the FIBA World Cup only four times:  1954, 1986, 1994, and 2010.  We've never won this event twice in a row.  The first loss suffered by the U.S. professionals took place in the 1998 World Cup (we came in third), and they were also beaten their in 2002 (we came in 6th) and 2006 (we came in third).  In 2010 we won, largely because of a spectacular performance from Kevin Durant.

But Kevin Durant isn't on this year's team.  Neither is Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Love or most people that NBA fans have heard of.  Instead, we have a bunch of youngsters, including UK heroes Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins, as well as Morehead State hero Kenneth Faried.  This is certainly exciting for Kentuckians, and it pleases those American journalists who are always worried that the United States might be too good for the rest of the competition.  But for those Americans who actually, you know, would like the United States to win the competition, it makes life much more difficult.  This year's tournament is in Spain, which last won the FIBA World Cup in 2006.  Here is how Spain has fared in the last two Olympics against our fully-loaded teams:

2008 Gold Medal Game:  United States 118 - 107 Spain
2012 Gold Medal Game:  United States 107 - 100 Spain

Spain also won the European Championships in 2009 and 2011, and came in third in the 2013 European Championship.  Spain is really, really good -- and at home they will be extremely difficult to beat, assuming that Team USA gets that far.  But we still have Coach K, Davis and Cousins are two of my favorite players ever, and I really like the FIBA rules, so I will be watching and hoping for the best.

According to folks in Britain, here are the latest odds to win the tournament:

USA:  8 to 13
Spain:  6 to 4
No one else is better than 33 to 1.

The Tournament only started a few days ago, so we are still in the preliminary rounds that the Europeans love to have for their international competitions.  We have four groups, with six teams in each group.  You play everyone in your group once, and the top four teams advance to the knockout rounds.  (As always, there is a tiebreaker system, and it is almost impossible to understand).  Here are the current standings:

1.  Spain:  3-0
2.  France:  2-1
3.  Brazil:  2-1
4.  Serbia:  2-1
5.  Iran:  0-3
6.  Egypt:  0-3

Here are Spain's results so far:

08/30/14:  Spain 90, Iran 60
08/31/14:  Spain 91, Egypt 54
09/01/14:  Spain 82, Brazil 63

Spain is really good.

1.  Greece:  3-0
2.  Croatia:  2-1
3.  Senegal:  2-1
4.  Argentina:  2-1
5.  Puerto Rico:  1-3
6.  Philippines:  0-4

Greece is the only country to beat Coach K in international play -- they beat the United States in the semi-final of the 2006 FIBA World Cup.

1.  United States:  3-0
2.  Ukraine:  2-1
3.  Dominican Republic:  2-1
4.  Turkey:  1-2
5.  Finland:  1-2
6.  New Zealand:  0-3

Here are our results so far:

08/30/14:  United States 114, Finland 55
08/31/14:  United States 98, Turkey 77 (We trailed 40-35 at the half)
09/02/14:  United States 98, New Zealand 71

We play the Dominican Republic today and Ukraine tomorrow.

1.  Australia:  3-1
2.  Slovenia:  3-0
3.  Lithuania:  2-1
4.  Mexico:  1-3
5.  Angola:  1-2
6.  S. Korea:  0-3

Assuming that we win our group, the U.S. will play the fourth-place team from Group D in Barcelona on September 6.  The final is set for September 14 in Madrid.  I wish us all the best -- we've already lost the soccer World Cup, and we're going to get crushed in the Ryder Cup, so it would be nice to win one of these.


  1. The U.S. beats the Dominican Republic 106-71, and clinches first place in Group C.

  2. Spain drilled France, 88-64. Spain is really good.

  3. The U.S. beats Ukraine 95-71 to wrap up group play with a perfect 5-0 record.

    They will now travel to Barcelona for the Round of 16. We don't yet know their opponent.

  4. OK, the U.S. will play Mexico on Saturday at 9 A.M. Central Time in Barcelona. Here's what Mexico did in Group D:

    08/30: Lithuania 87, Mexico 74
    08/31: Slovenia 89, Mexico 68
    09/02: Mexico 79, Angola 55
    09/03: Australia 70, Mexico 62
    09/04: Mexico 87, S. Korea 71

    That was good for fourth place in Group D.

  5. I watched some of the U.S. win over the Dominican Republic, and I believe that the United States is going to win the tournament.