By Aris Barkas/ email@example.com
With 20 teams already qualified for the upcoming FIBA World Cup, the four wildcards are a hot commodity. At least nine countries are hoping to get them and two of them seem to be a lock. It would be a shock if China from FIBA Asia and Brazil from FIBA Americas are excluded, since they are two of the biggest emerging basketball markets. The inclusion of Brazil will be bad news for Canada, a country that is building an ambitious national team program and has a new generation of players of the highest quality, since it will be real hard for FIBA to give two wildcards to FIBA Americas federations.
The topic will be examined on the 22 of November by FIBA central board, which includes a member from Russia (Sergey Chernov) and Germany (Manfred Stroher), however the final decision could take some time. The criteria of the decision have do not only with basketball, but also with financial and commercial data and every team that gets a wildcard has also to pay the sum of 500.000 USD as a guarantee. With two spots up in discussion, its more than possible that the wildcards will end up in FIBA Europe’s member and five European countries have already expressed their interest to get into the world cup. They are Russia, Turkey, Greece, Italy and Germany.
Financially, Russia and Turkey are the best placed candidates. In addition the interest for basketball in Turkey has exploded, with the best clubs of the country putting a lot of money in the sport in order to compete for the Euroleague title. Greece has the best FIBA ranking of all other candidates (fourth spot), never in the past has been given a wildcard (on the contrary Italy and Turkey got one in 2006 and Russia and Germany in 2010) and of course the sport is always on the media spotlight in the country. Germany best card has a name: Dirk Nowitzki. If he decides to play for his national team next summer, then the German candidacy will get much stronger because of his star power. Last but not least, Italy is the only top eight team of Eurobasket 2013 which didn’t get qualified to next summer’s tournament.
As anyone can guess, it will not be an easy choice for FIBA, specially since at this point Russia and Turkey are in search of a coach in order to build a new national team program towards the 2016 Olympics and Greece can join them too in rebuilding.