A spectacular start in the FIBA World Cup guarantees success

2023-08-28T11:12:55+00:00 2023-08-28T13:54:28+00:00.

Aris Barkas

28/Aug/23 11:12


A new All-time attendance record, full gyms and huge upsets quarantee that this World Cup will go down as the best yet

By Aris Barkas/ barkas@eurohoops.net

MANILA, Philippines – The FIBA World Cup of 2019 in China set the bar too high. It was the biggest ever World Cup and that was enough to make it the best yet.

As a result, this year’s tournament didn’t have the benefit of breaking new ground and has already a record-breaking event to surpass. It’s not an easy task, however, the first signs are more than encouraging.

The choice of a second straight World Cup held in Asia raised many eyebrows, however now it makes total sense. Japan, Indonesia, and first and foremost the Philippines are countries where the sport is either on the rise or close to a religion.

While speaking about bastions of basketball around the world, you simply can’t leave out the Philippines and the new record of 38.115 fans in a World Cup game proves this beyond any doubt.

However, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

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Already there has been a solid number of first-round games with more than 10,000 spectators on the fans, a sign of things to come in later stages of the competition, and the results just four days into the tournament are mindboggling.

France is out of the Top 16 teams, Japan managed to beat Finland, South Sudan is stealing the show, the Dominican Republic seems to be an emerging powerhouse thanks to Karl Anthony Towns and suddenly the 32-team format makes sense.

Yes, there will be some dull games decided by huge differences. But on the other hand, mid-level countries will have the chance to compete and maybe create a “moment” that will propel the sport even more on them. That already happened with Japan after their win over Finland, which was led by NBA All-Star Lauri Marrkanen.

Plus the ramifications of such a result, due to the format, have a real impact on the competition. Suddenly Finland is fighting for their lives, while there’s a huge interest in Japan for the results of China, which is considered their main opponent in the race for a spot in the Olympic qualifiers.

So getting more teams involved can be only beneficial and just in the second 32-team World Cup this is already proven despite the “cost” of some unavoidable one-sided contests.

Beyond that, FIBA is making important improvements in the living conditions of the teams that are competing. The team hotels are top class, the facilities are great and the players don’t have to share a double room, a very usual practice in international basketball until recent years.

Of course, nothing is perfect – especially the wi-fi of the press in some arenas – and there’s not a final verdict yet, but things are looking good and, as they say, the best is yet to come…