FIBA World Cup Preview – Group C

We’re going group by group with what you need to know to enjoy the 2014 FIBA World Cup of Basketball. Today we’re looking at Group C.

The teams
Dominican Republic
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.

New Zealand
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.

United States
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.
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Basketball World Cup of Beer: Quarter finals – Part 1

BWCB Opening Ceremony
We are in the latter stages of the 2014 Basketball World Cup of Beer. It began with 24 beers, one for each of the nations in the FIBA World Cup of Basketball. Now we’re down to the elite eight. It’s time to find out our first two semi-finalists.

Here are your match-ups on day one of the quarter-finals:
8 Wired Superconductor DIPA (New Zealand) vs Sierra Nevada Torpedo IPA (USA)
Sinebrychoff Porter (Finland) vs Little Creatures Pale Ale (Australia)

It’s time to turn 4 into 2…
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Basketball World Cup of Beer: Round 2 – Part 2

BWCB Opening Ceremony
It’s the knockout stages of the 2014 Basketball World Cup of Beer. If you are super late to the party, each of the 24 nations in the FIBA World Cup of Basketball is represented by a beer, we round them down using a format like the big one in Spain to decide the best. We had a rough Group A, a so-so Group B, an elite Group C, and a perfectly fine Group D. Now we’ve reached the business end of proceedings.

Yesterday Ozusjko, Admiral Benson, 8 Wired Superconductor DIPA, and Sierra Nevada Torpedo IPA booked their places in the quarter finals. Today we find out who will join them in the elite eight. Here are the match-ups:

Al-Ahram Stella (Egypt) vs FIX (Greece)
Alhambra Reserva 1925 (Spain) vs Old Harbor Kofresi Stout (Puerto Rico)
Sinebrychoff Porter (Finland) vs Lasko Dark (Slovenia)
Efes Malt (Turkey) vs Little Creatures Pale Ale (Australia)

Time to turn 8 into 4…
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Basketball World Cup of Beer – Group C

BWCB Opening Ceremony

After two straight slaughters in the battle for top spot, we’ve got a real battle for first place in Group C of the 2014 Basketball World Cup of Beer. The rules are simple, every nation in the FIBA World Cup of Basketball gets a beer, most have been nominated by fans or journalists from the nation in question. Today we’ve got 6 beers for the 6 nations in Group C with 4 progressing to the knockout stages.

Let’s meet the contenders in the deepest group to date of the competition…
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Highlights: Croatia take bronze, Finland promoted at FIBA Europe U18s

Croatia won the bronze medal match at the 2014 FIBA Europe Under 18 men’s championship with a 75-71 win over Greece. Much like their semi-final with Serbia, the Greeks didn’t lack grit but Croatia had too much quality in the end. Marko Arapovic had 24 points and 16 rebounds and Dragan Bender had 14 points and 10 assists for the victors.
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Highlights: Serbia overcome Greece 60-55, Ukraine promoted

Serbia outlasted a gritty Greek team in the first of Saturday’s FIBA Europe Under 18 men’s semi finals. Neither team did well from beyond the arc but Radovan Djokovic’s pair of treys gave Serbia some breathing room in the fourth before Greece rallied. The victory secured Serbia’s place in the final for the first time since 2011.
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Highlights: Turkey beat Latvia 78-53 at FIBA Europe U18s

Turkey locked up the fourth and final spot in today’s FIBA Europe Under 18s men’s semi finals with a convincing 78-53 win over Latvia. After a tight first quarter, the hosts pulled away in Konya. Furkan Korkmaz led Turkey in scoring with 22 points and 6 rebounds, as Turkey took a commanding 14 point lead into the final frame before closing the game out with a 19-8 fourth quarter.

In the classification games there was finally some good news for England who recorded their first win of the tournament, beating Poland 83-74. Aaron Menzies had 17 points and 15 boards while Jules Dang Akodo socred 18 points, had 8 assists, and 4 steals, as England kept their survival hopes alive. Poland are relegated to Division B as a result of this defeat while England must win one more game on Sunday, against either Czech Republic or Belgium to survive.

Finally, in Division B BiE’s home team Ireland lost their final game of the tournament 64-63 to Switzerland to finish in 22nd and last place. The semi-finals of the tournament take place later today in Sofia with Ukraine taking on Finland and Sweden playing Germany.


Serbia and Croatia make statements at FIBA U18s

It’s nearing the business end of the FIBA Europe U18 men’s championships and two teams stood out above all on Wednesday.

Serbia and Turkey were locked in a tight battle for most of their clash in Konya before the Serbs stepped up a gear in the second half to beat the hosts on a convincing 82-62 scoreline. That win secured top spot for Serbia in Group F, with Turkey having to settle for second. Spain and Greece booked their passages to the knockout stages with wins over Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro.

Croatia however remain the team to beat in these championships. Italy gave them a good test in the battle for top spot in Group E but, as has been the case throughout this tournament, they had to lean too much on the Mussidori. Federico Mussini and Diego Flaccadori accounted for 38 of Italy’s 65 points with no other Italian player breaking double digits. Croatia’s greater depth proved telling in the second half, as even on a quiet (by his standards) day for Dragan Bender they were able to score at will. Marco Arapovic had his third 20 point game of the tournament as Croatia eventually coasted to victory 81-65.
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Enough with the arbitrary rankings argument

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.


Brazil, Finland, Greece, and Turkey get FIBA World Cup wild cards

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.