In case you’ve been overly consumed by the NBA, college
basketball, or the WNBA off-season, now would be a great time to
remind y’all that the 2023 FIBA World Cup qualifiers are going
And in case you didn’t know, the host countries for the 2023
World Cup are Japan, Indonesia and the Philippines — more on that
The last World Cup was right before the 2019-20 season, but
feels so long ago because this whole COVID thing hadn’t yet clapped
us up. If you remember, the 2020 Olympics took place in 2021 — as
in, last year. Yeah, I know, the international stuff can get
confusing, but I’m here to help you. Trust me.
Now, perhaps quietly to some, international play quickly resumed
this past November with the first window of 2023 World Cup
qualifying, which we’ll recap shortly.
You have four sets of qualifying regions: Africa, Americas,
Asia/Oceania, and Europe. There are six windows played over a
15-month span (starting from this past November), where the
competing squads normally would participate in two games
per window. COVID had other ideas — more on that later.
Currently, each region has groups of four, and the top three in
each group will advance to round two following the June/July
window. This current round of qualifying is between Nov. 20-30,
Feb. 21-March 1, and June 27-July 5, after which we’ll enter round
two. Round two also occurs over three windows: August 22-30, Nov.
7-15, and Feb. 20-28, then those who will have qualified will enter
group drawing next March, and we’ll see them compete between August
25-September 10 — the World Cup.
Now, let’s lay out all the things you should probably know and,
if you see a number in parenthesis next to a team that’s listed,
that’s their current world ranking, according to FIBA. So
if you feel like your people are being misrepresented, leave me
alone and take that up with them. (Unless … unless you mean, you
know, actual greater good/societal misrepresentation, then
… let’s talk, because me, too.)
As they did in 2019, Africa will get five of the final 32 World
Cup spots. Though they’re hoping for a better result, because none
of them advanced past group play. The Groups are as
Group A: Nigeria (22), Mali (72), Cape Verde (74), Uganda
Group B: Tunisia (28), Cameroon (64), South Sudan (82), Rwanda
Group C: Angola (31), Cote d’Ivoire (40), Central African Rep.
(75), Guinea (99)
Group D: Senegal (34), Egypt (59), Congo DR (81), Kenya
First Window Summary: Africa has a slightly
different format. Groups A and C each played three games from Nov.
26-28, the biggest perhaps being Cape Verde’s 79-71 upset over
Nigeria, which helped move their ranking from No. 100 to No. 74 in
the world. Thus, Groups A and C will return in the summer window.
Nigeria and Mali are 2-1 and lead Group A, and Cote d’Ivoire went
3-0 in November, sitting atop Group C. Groups B and D begin
qualifying on Feb. 25 at Dakar Arena in Senegal, which will be
three straight days of games through the 27th.
The Biggest What If: Tunisia plays Cameroon on
Feb. 25. Cameroon is one of the many wild cards worth keeping tabs
on. They still haven’t been able to piece together the dream
frontcourt of Joel Embiid, Pascal Siakam and Luc Richard Mbah a
Moute, who hasn’t played since the NBA bubble. Embiid came close in 2017, but
ultimately didn’t play. Obviously, NBA players rarely can compete
in these qualifying windows because of, well, them being in the
NBA. But if Cameroon could do well enough and qualify, who knows if
that’ll be enough to lure Embiid and Siakam into international
2019 WC qualifiers: Argentina (silver medalist), Brazil,
Canada, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, USA, and
The Americas will, again, send seven to the World Cup late next
year. The Americas have the standard format across the board, so
this window will mark two games for each club. The groups are:
Group A: Argentina (7), Venezuela (17), Panama (50), Paraguay
Group B: Brazil (15), Uruguay (41), Colombia (67), Chile
Group C: Canada (18), Dominican Republic (20), U.S. Virgin
Islands (54), Bahamas (62)
Group D: U.S.A. (1), Puerto Rico (19), Mexico (24), Cuba
First Window Summary: Argentina, Venezuela,
Brazil, Uruguay, Canada, Dominican Republic and Mexico are all 2-0.
U.S.A. and Puerto Rico are the only 1-1 teams in the Americas, and
will play each other on Tuesday in Washington D.C. Notably, for
Team U.S.A., Jim Boylen coached the club in the November window, in
which they held off Cuba 95-90, then lost to Mexico in Chihuahua
City, 97-88. Although Cuba is 0-2, their star, Jaisel Rivero, is
good enough to steal them a game. Rivero put 34 (13-18 shooting)
with 9 rebounds and 3 threes on Team USA in their narrow loss.
Rivero currently competes with Liga ACB and EuroCup’s Valencia
Basket in Spain, where he averages 11.1 points (second on team) and
4.9 rebounds (third on team) across all competitions.
21 points for @isaiahthomas
last night, including 4 made threes, none bigger than this dagger.
Team USA defeated Cuba 95-90 to start 2023 World Cup Qualifiers.
They face Mexico tonight.
Uncle Iso Joe: Among
the notables who suited up for Team USA in November were Isaiah
Thomas, Luke Kornet, Chasson Randle, Haywood Highsmith and
Shaquille Harrison, among many other current and former NBA
players. Seven-time All-Star and 40-year-old Joe Johnson, who
famously was a Boston Celtic briefly earlier this season, is
confirmed to be suiting up with Team USA in this February
window. Brian Bowen II is the only player returning from the
November window. Other Team U.S.A. members include current G
Leaguers Jordan Bell, David Stockton, Langston Galloway and Justin
Wright-Foreman, among others.
La Nueva Era de Baloncesto: Both Mexico and
Puerto Rico announced new head coaches shortly before the November
window. Mexico’s led by long-time NBA assistant Kaleb Caneles,
while Puerto Rico hired Nelson Colon, who is a three-time champion
and Coach of the Year in Baloncesto Superior Nacional, Puerto
Rico’s top pro basketball league. Former long-time NBA guard Carlos
Arroyo was also appointed the
Puerto Rican National Team’s General Manager last June.
2019 WC qualifiers: Australia (finished fourth), China,
Iran, Japan, Jordan, New Zealand, South Korea and the
The hosts – Japan, the Philippines and Indonesia – typically
automatically qualify for the World Cup. Indonesia’s qualification is more
provisional due to their lack of international success. Japan
and the Philippines are automatically in, but they’re all scheduled
to participate in World Cup qualifiers anyway.
In the 2019 World Cup, Asia/Oceania sent eight teams over, which
they’ll do again in 2023. Here are the groups:
Group A: New Zealand (27), South Korea (30), Philippines (33),
Group B: Australia (3), China (29), Japan (37), Chinese Taipei
Group C: Jordan (39), Lebanon (55), Indonesia (91), Saudi
Group D: Iran (23), Kazakhstan (70), Syria (85), Bahrain
First Window Summary: Due to travel
restrictions (COVID), several games had to be
canceled, so while the format was originally the same as the
Americas, it came with some modifications. No one in Group A has
played yet, so they’ll each play four games to compensate, all of
which will take place between Feb. 24 and Feb. 28. In Group B, only
China and Japan were able to play, and China smacked them twice,
79-63, and 106-73. Australia and Chinese Taipei are each scheduled
to play three times between Feb. 25 and Feb. 28. Japan will play
twice in this window, once against each of them, and China will
return for four games in the third window to end round one.
Medal Momentum: This will mark the first we see
of Australia since finally winning their first medal at the 2020
Olympics (that were played in 2021). Australia had lost the bronze
medal game in the 1988, 1996, 2000 and 2016 Olympics before finally
medaling in their fifth attempt. In their history, they’ve never
had a better World Cup finish than in 2019, where they lost in …
another bronze medal game. Perhaps Australia is really
turning a corner now.
🥉 HISTORY MADE 🥉
The Boomers have done it- Australia have secured their first ever
men’s basketball Olympic medal!
Europe is the largest region of basketball playing powers here,
so their rules are slightly different. Instead of four groups,
there are eight. As a result, they’ll get 12 World Cup bids.
Here are the groups:
Group A: Serbia (6), Latvia (26), Belgium (36), Slovakia
Group B: Greece (10), Turkey (16), Great Britain (44), Belarus
Group C: Slovenia (4), Croatia (21), Finland (35), Sweden
Group D: Germany (11), Poland (13), Israel (42), Estonia
Group E: France (5), Montenegro (25), Hungary (43), Portugal
Group F: Lithuania (8), Czech Republic (12), Bosnia (45),
Group G: Spain (2), Ukraine (32), Georgia (38), North Macedonia
Group H: Italy (9), Russia (14), Netherlands (47), Iceland
First Window Summary: Everyone here was able to
play two games in November. Your 2-0 teams are as follows: Belgium,
Slovenia, Israel, France, Lithuania, Bosnia, Spain and Russia. Your
0-2 teams are Netherlands, North Macedonia, Bulgaria, Czech
Republic, Portugal, Poland, Croatia and Slovakia. Czech Republic
was a story from the 2019 World Cup. They shockingly
punched above their weight and reached the quarterfinals. Czech
Republic, led by Tomáš Satoransky, finished sixth, one spot above
Team U.S.A. But, so far, they haven’t won a game in 2023
qualifying. Czech Republic lost to Bosnia 97-90 and Lithuania
74-66. They should have a breakthrough against Bulgaria on the
24th, but it’ll be difficult to set themselves up for a
repeat of 2019, which was their first World Cup bid.
The State of Spain: After winning the 2019
World Cup with an incredibly stacked team, including tournament MVP
Ricky Rubio, captain Rudy Fernández, Marc Gasol and Willy
Hernangómez, Spain was knocked out of the Olympic quarterfinals by
the United States. Their Olympic team featured many of their same
heavy-hitters, including even Pau Gasol, who retired in October and
is now a member of the International Olympic Committee. Like the
United States, many of the players you’d expect to see on their
World Cup roster likely won’t participate much until
then. Even so, expect them to continue reigning as one of the
top teams in the world. We could talk about the age factor around
this time next year, perhaps.
The Sleeping Giant: Slovenia famously jumped 12
spots after their debut Olympic performance, largely led by Luka
Dončić, accompanied by standout pro teammates Mike Tobey, Zoran
(Goran’s brother) Dragić, and Vlatko Čančar. Slovenia finished
fourth, losing to Australia in the bronze medal game. They didn’t
qualify for the 2019 World Cup, but did win the 2017 EuroBasket, in
which Goran won MVP and Luka, at 18 years old, was named to the
All-Tournament team. (Anthony Randolph played for the Slovenian
team, then. Who knew?!?) Dragić and Tobey are listed on the roster for this
window. Look for them to continue raising hell in qualifiers,
and if Dončić suits up, in the World Cup, too.
For even more World Cup info and complete schedules, go here.
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