Vanilla in Manila

2023-09-14T16:06:05+00:00 2023-09-14T16:07:23+00:00.

Aris Barkas

14/Sep/23 16:06

The 2023 FIBA World Cup was like vanila icecream. If it’s done correctly, it’s very good but you also get the sence that you need more and the best is yet to come, maybe in Qatar

By Aris Barkas/

The 2023 FIBA World Cup was completed with Germany getting the right to be called World Champions (pun intended), two and a half weeks of great basketball, amazing storylines, and a classic sense of fulfillment.

To get back at the start of it, it was like a great taste of vanilla ice cream like the one Jordan Clarkson got, and as it happens in many cases, vanilla leaves you wanting a little bit extra.

Don’t get this wrong. No matter how you measure it, this was so far the biggest ever FIBA World Cup with the digital growth is mindboggling.

The event proved beyond any doubt that basketball is on the rise especially in Asia, something that the FIBA Secretary General Andreas Zagklis underlined by calling the Japanese league one of the Top 10 domestic leagues in the world (and he is absolutely right on that).

On top of that, there’s no doubt that the players’ experience was on another level this summer, not comparable with anything provided before.

Especially entering the quarterfinals, this was also translated on the court with almost every knockout game being an instant classic.

So why does this ice cream, no matter how tasty it was, seem to be missing a little bit more?

First and foremost, empty seats, while limited, took away from the whole experience, and only in the games of the Filipino national team, the sheer basketball-loving madness of the hosts was on full display.

Zagklis admitted that the prices on some tiers were simply too much for the average Philippino fan, so while in total the attendance brook another record with more than 700,000 tickets sold, the final experience in the arena was not always the one expected.

Plus FIBA has decided that the World Cup will serve also as a direct qualification tournament for the Olympics, creating high-stakes classification games in many cases.

That move, however, clearly comes at the cost of many top-level NBA players skipping the tournament, since they aim to play next summer in the Olympics. The upside of this tactic is that the USA is bound to present vulnerable rosters in the World Cup, something that takes away from the marketability of the event in North America, but on the other hand, gives one more incentive to the rest of the world to watch, since beating the US has now been almost a World Cup tradition.

Compared to last year’s Eurobasket buzz when Giannis, Jokic, and Doncic played, this year things were relatively tamer on star power, even if Doncic was present again with Slovenia, Austin Reaves has a fan club in Manila and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander proved beyond any doubt that he is more than elite.

But those two issues are just some sprinkles missing on the top. And there’s a notion that in four years in Qatar, due to the fact that the whole World Cup will be contained in one location with all arenas of all four groups being just 15 minutes away from each other, things can only get better.

Still, the Philippines – plus co-hosts Japan and Indonesia – delivered the best yet tournament, which created new record numbers on every metric and also introduced new on-court global powers in Canada and Germany.

After all, you can’t go wrong when ordering vanilla ice cream, a taste that leaves pretty much everyone satisfied…