The triumph of the “underdogs”

2019-09-13T06:35:12+00:00 2019-09-13T06:35:12+00:00.

Aris Barkas

13/Sep/19 06:35

Only Australia after beating the USA in a preparation game was considered a medal candidate before the FIBA World Cup, but traditional FIBA powers proved once again that international competition has particular needs

By Aris Barkas/

BEIJING – With two of the main favorites not making it beyond the quarterfinals, the FIBA World Cup 2019 proved to be a really open tournament.

To make it far in the competition, it’s all about gaining momentum on the right time and not having a lapse of concentration on a crucial moment.

It was a fact from the first tip-off that the new 32-team format doesn’t leave a significant margin for error and of course there’s no coming back at the knock out phase.

On the other hand, however, you can’t argue about the fact that the four best teams of the tournament made it until the semis.

Yes, Serbia has a great roster but was outplayed by Argentina. The USA had issues that never were resolved. That’s why France, Spain, Australia, and Argentina are worthy contenders.

All of them produced an attractive brand of basketball; they were real teams and never put their money on just one or two NBA stars to take them out of the woods.

What’s interesting is that out of those four teams only Australia was considered a leading medal contender before the tournament, after beating the USA in preparation.

Coach Sergio Scariolo talked on this matter yesterday and reminded everyone which were the key reasons that Spain is one of the most dominant teams in international basketball during the last 20 years. Despite their missing stars, Spaniards know when to turn it on in FIBA tournaments.

The same goes for France, Argentina, and Australia, teams which have grown through the years, having under the same coach a core of players that slowly changes and evolves. It takes longer, compared to teams on the club level, but it happens.

And that’s the bottom line in the FIBA World Cup. We have rarely seen teams achieving something memorable in the international scene during the last decades due to only one player. The only exception to this rule was Dirk Nowitzki’s Germany.

No matter who gets the world title this year, the final verdict will be the same. In such short tournaments, chemistry and teamwork make all the difference. That’s the international basketball way.

Photo credit: FIBA.Basketball