The group stages of the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup kicked off last Saturday in Spain and are currently in full swing with 24 nations from around the world competing in the tournament. Most basketball fans are familiar with the NBA stars from team USA and the bigger basketball countries, but the FIBA World Cup showcases much more than that, shining a light on players from more obscure leagues across the globe, from Angola to Qatar.
Spain and the USA are in a class of their own.
When looking at the World Rankings the FIBA periodically publishes, you don’t necessarily get an idea of how much of a difference there is between each country. Looking at the visualization above you can clearly see that there is an enormous gap between the first two teams, USA and Spain, and everyone else. There are almost as many points separating 2nd-place Spain from 3rd-place Argentina as there are between Argentina and 19th-place Iran. Look out for a potential US-Spain final—a rematch of the 2012 Olympics final—that would pit the Gasol brothers and the rest of the Spanish golden generation against the younger Team USA lead by Harden, Rose and Curry.
A majority of the players on WC rosters play for US club teams.
The US draws the largest concentration of talent from the international squads with 56 total players (58 if you count the NBA franchise Toronto Raptors) on WC Rosters, followed by Turkey at 26. Despite the fact that some NBA superstars, like Joakim Noah of France (Chicago Bulls) and Manu Ginobili of Argentina (San Antonio Spurs), decided to sit out the FIBA World Cup, the NBA still hosts vastly more international players than any other league. Even though the US is first overall as a country, European super power Real Madrid of Spain leads all individual clubs, providing 7 players to the Greek, Spanish, and Argentinian national teams. Interestingly, it is matched by CD Primero Agosto, an Angolan team that provides over half of the players on Angola’s national team.
Croatia is the tallest team at the 2014 World Cup and the Phillippines are the shortest.
The average height for the Croatian national team is 6’8’’ (2.04m), just barely ahead of Serbia and Greece. Team USA can be found a couple spots further back at 6’7” (2.01m). On the other end of the spectrum, the Philippines national team is on average a more human 6’4’’ (1.93m) and features the two shortest players in the competition, both at 5’9’’(1.75m). In addition to being the shortest team, the Philippines are the second oldest team with an average of just under 30, only younger than Brazil. The youngest team in the tournament? The US with an average age of 24.
In terms of key matchups – although team USA is taller on average than the Spanish national team, the Gasol brothers are both taller than any member of the US roster. The lack of size is one weakness, perhaps along with the American lack of experience, the Spaniards will be looking to exploit if the expected showdown comes to a head in the final.
The US won handily in 2010 - Will we see the same kind of margin this year?
The last two FIBA World Championship finals (it was officially renamed “World Cup” this year) have been won with sizeable margins by Spain in 2006 (23) and the US in 2010 (17),led by MVPs Gasol and Durant respectively. As you can see in the above visualization though, it wasn’t always like this – the 4 finals held in the 70s and 80s were very close games where teams won by no more than 3 points. As we saw earlier, Spain and the US are well-matched and are also the last two FIBA World Champions. Should we expect a showdown with a close final between the two powerhouses? To find out who the winner was for each of these finals make sure to explore the dashboard, which will give you information on teams, score, and MVP for each year.
These are just a few of the insights to be uncovered on the dashboard; we encourage you to interact with it on your own, here, to answer your own questions and get to know this year’s contenders.
For more information on the FIBA World Cup, click here.