That right there is FIBA’s latest promo for the 2014 World Cup of Basketball. BiE arrives in Bilbao on Friday 29th. It can’t come soon enough.
Qualified: Fourth place at 2013 FIBA Americas, they return to the World Cup for the first time since 1978.
Qualified: ANGRY BIRDS. Ok not entirely but Rovio played a big role in helping the Finns secure the wild card for their first World Cup appearance.
Qualified: Second at 2013 FIBA Oceania championships. In Oceania, second is also known as ‘not Australia’ as it was once again a two-team tournament with both certain of their place in Spain.
Qualified: Finished 6th at EuroBasket 2013 with borscht-loving Pooh Jeter at point guard. This is their first appearance at the World Cup.
Qualified: Gold medal winners at the 2012 summer Olympics. No Durant, no Love, no question the defending champions are still loaded.
Qualified: Another wildcard, albeit not with the colourful background of Finland securing the same status. Turkey hosted the last World Cup where they took the silver medal.
The 2014 FIBA World Cup of Basketball warm-up games continued apace at the weekend. Serbia, Argentina, Turkey, and Puerto Rico all played in the Belgrade Trophy. We asked Alex Krstanovic, chief editor of Sportska Centrala, for his thoughts on the four teams involved.
BallinEurope:Serbia were hosting, how did they look over the two days?
Alex Krstanovic: Serbia looked quite good, but it was obvious we lack a real playmaker (such as Teodosic) and another good shooter such as Nedovic. My personal question is whether the Serbian team has peaked a bit too early in its physical form. It was obvious in today’s game that the players held the rhythm for all of 40 minutes, which is usually not the case in preparation games and 2 weeks before the tournament even starts.
The Greek Freak continues to bring his exciting style of play to the FIBA World Cup warm-up games. The Milwaukee Bucks man made this jams during today’s international between his native Greece and Lithuania. We’ll have more on this game later on BiE.
A song that wouldn’t be out of place in a bar full of drunken holidaymakers in Torremolinos, Sube la Copa is the official song of the 2014. It’s about as inoffensive as official tournament songs get, which is really saying something given these things are rarely anything but saccharine. With lots of room for ample woah-ohing, it’s the type of song that will get a really easy to please (read wasted) crowd going. On the upside, it doesn’t feature Pitbull.
If you really want an official tournament song with socks, call a Slovenian.
Qualified: Third place at the 2013 FIBA Americas championship. No Manu Ginobili in this team and while still a threat to make the knockout stages, there are a long shot for medal contention.
Qualified: Fourth place at EuroBasket 2013, a good, organised outfit, likely to run into trouble at least once in group play but certainly in with a shot at a medal if they get the right draw.
Qualified: Wild card recipients after a disappointing 11th place finish in EuroBasket, they travel to Spain weakened by the absence of Vassilis Spanoulis and Kosta Koufos.
Qualified: Making their first appearance at the big one since hosting in 1978, the basketball mad nation qualified as silver medal winners at the 2013 FIBA Asia championship.
Qualified: Silver medal winners at 2013 FIBA Americas championship, a capable outfit and one that will see anything less than the second round a failure.
Qualified: After taking third place in 2013 FIBA Africa championship, Senegal was suspended by FIBA over fabricating the ages of players in the World Under 19 championships. That suspension was later lifted and they’re heading to Spain.
It was a big night for Jonas Valanciunas as he scored 19 points and snagged 8 rebounds in Lithuania’s World Cup warm-up win over Australia. Here’s the Raptors’ big man doing his thing.
Yesterday we found out that Finland would be playing in the 2014 World Cup of Basketball. Some people were upset because of Angry Birds but plenty thought Finland’s FIBA ranking meant they were undeserving. Emmet Ryan has a problem with these arguments, especially the latter.
We’ve got a pretty intelligent readership. You guys understand concepts like ELO rankings, used for chess, and how they are based on pretty heavy amounts of data. International basketball doesn’t use an ELO system and even if they did, they wouldn’t have the data to back it up. In simple terms, there really aren’t a lot of games played internationally. We live in a what have you done for me lately world not by choice but by necessity. The rankings don’t recognise said need. These rankings place China, losing quarter finalists in AsiaBasket, at 12th in the world. Turkey who, since finishing second at the 2010 World Cup (which they hosted) are 7th despite being utter turkeys in international play in the years since. Great Britain, a team for whom this writer has a heavy bias in their favour, sit 22nd by virtue of automatically qualifying for the 2012 Olympics having never got past the first stage of EuroBasket.
Yet yesterday we saw some good basketball writers lean on Finland’s ranking of 39th in the world as a reason to leave them out, ignoring their superior performances to Turkey in the last two EuroBaskets. Now don’t get me wrong, having a wild card system is a joke in and of itself but we’ll get to that in a second. If you exclude the Finns, you simply have to drop Turkey because they have been objectively worse for the last three years.
Were merit the deciding factor, I’d have sent Italy and Canada to Spain but even there we need to apply a giant caveat. The selections of those two teams is based only on what they did in 2013 on the court. Were there no wild cards, the complexion of the qualifying system would have unquestionably be different. Italy and Canada delivered their performances in full knowledge of the off-court route of qualification.
Now about that off-court route. Let’s assume nobody here likes the idea of basically buying your way into a world championship. Ideally we don’t see that option. That however was the situation and it immediately weighted the playing field on off-court criteria in favour of certain nations. TV rights and audiences make larger nations more appealing to FIBA. What the Finns did was no different in terms of its objective and basketball value to Greece, Turkey, Russia, or anyone else. The only difference was they hustled hard and found a way to make up for their deficiencies in conventional resources. If they couldn’t deliver TV, they could deliver something. The Angry Birds are that something. You may find it a novelty but as the most popular mobile download in the world. it’s a big place to put some ads.
The rankings suck, off-court factors mattering suck, Finland sure as hell don’t suck. They play fun ball and they made what should have been a dull wild card process interesting. Good for the Susijengi.
We’ll have an interview with one of Finland’s bid team up next week, I have to hold it for a piece I’m working on for my day job.
Trust FIBA to announce it early. The four wild cards for the 2014 FIBA World Cup of Basketball are in and three European teams have booked their tickets to Spain.
The wild cards are in and we came oh so close with our picks. The 11th hour surprise was China withdrawing from the application process which suddenly made three European wild cards a legitimate possibility. This morning FIBA confirmed what had been suspected overnight. Here are your four wild cards:
Brazil – Pretty much the biggest lock from the outset, although we had China on the same level, and the Olympic hosts have their ticket to the dance in Spain.
Finland – As, fearlessly, predicted by BiE the Wolf Pack are in thanks to a MASSIVE assist from Rovio. The Angry Birds developers offered FIBA a mountain of free advertising space if they accepted the Finns. Throw in 40,000 Finns living in Spain and this offer went from no-hope to in the bag.
Greece – We had them on the outside looking in despite what was reported as a particularly strong bid. The withdrawal of China took a lot of pressure off their battle and now Spanoulis is going to Spain.
Turkey – We’ve had Turkey in from day one, on the grounds of a strong bid and the sheer amount of sponsorship money Turkish companies put into basketball. The runners-up in the last championships will get to play in Spain.
Do you agree with FIBA’s wild card picks? Tell us what you think in the comments.