By Aris Barkas/ firstname.lastname@example.org
As it was officially announced by FIBA, two favorites, Turkey and Brazil, one team which always had big chances, Greece, and the surprise named Finland got the wildcards for the upcoming FIBA World Cup this summer in Spain. It was a race that became unpredictable during the last days and the big surprise is that three teams from Europe were selected with Finland – thanks to Rovio the company behind the successful video game “Angry Birds” which was backing the bid – beating Russia.
The reports about the last minute withdraws from the wildcard race where semi-correct, as China decided to forfeit its effort for a wildcard. According to Eurohoops sources the nation’s priority are the Asian Games which start at the 18 of September and not the FIBA World Cup, so they will be sending their top team in their continental tournament.
Russia federation’s recent election issues proved to be a real problem for FIBA and that benefited the candidacy of Finland. Despite finishing in the ninth place of the recent Eurobasket, Finland is ranked 39th in the FIBA ranking which was the main sport related criteria in the selection. But Rovio promised advertising support to the World Cup via the “Andry Birds” game.
As for the rest of the three teams, none can be considered a surprise for reasons analyzed here. Of course every team which got a wildcard paid a reported fee of 830.000 euros to FIBA. Also FIBA announced that Senegal is expected to play at the World Cup “considering the fact that the officials in charge of the Senegalese Basketball Federation have complied with past disciplinary sanctions imposed by FIBA and have agreed to a clear road map for the complete re-organisation of the national federation”.