Well only the name is different. The world basketball championship has been in existence since 1950 under the auspices of FIBA, the International Basketball Federation. From Argentina in 1950, FIBA’s flagship tournament has been staged every four years with the 16th edition having been hosted by Turkey in 2010. Until now the tournament has been known as the FIBA World Championship. The organizers have since decided to call it the FIBA Basketball World Cup and Spain will have the honor of hosting the 17th edition, which will be named as the World Cup in keeping with the tradition followed by other sporting events. People around the world are familiar with the name since the term World Cup is easily recognized and not just in English. Spanish people call it Copa del Mundo, the Italian as Coppa del Mondo and the French equivalent is Coupe du Monde. The organizers think that naming the existing tournament as World Cup will extend basketball’s international value and put the event at par with the FIFA World Cup, the Rugby World Cup, the Hockey World Cup and the Cricket World Cup. FIBA has made another change by resetting the tournament cycle and after Spain, the next FIBA World Cup will be held in 2019 in a different year than the FIFA World Cup. Inarguably, the Football World Cup far exceeds any other sporting event in global popularity.
The tournament draw was held on February 03, 2014 at the Palau de la Musica Catalana in Barcelona, Spain. 24 teams divided in 4 groups of 6 teams each will play the World Cup in several venues across Spain. These teams are; Group A: Spain, Serbia, France, Brazil, Egypt, Iran, Group B: Philippines, Senegal, Puerto Rico, Argentina, Greece, Croatia; Group C: Dominican Republic, Turkey, USA, Finland, New Zeeland, Ukraine; Group D: Slovenia, Lithuania, Angola, Korea, Mexico, Australia. As per the tournament format, preliminary round matches will begin on Aug. 30 in Spanish cities of Granada for group A, Seville for Group B, Bilbao for Group C and Gran Canaria for Group D. A total of sixty games will be played in the Group Phase and the teams placed 1st-4th in each group will qualify for the knock out phase in Barcelona and Madrid. The Spanish capital will also host the last two matches of the World Cup. On September 13, two semifinal losers will play for the third and fourth places while the 2014 final will be held on September 14, from where the first ever FIBA World Cup champion will emerge.
In the inaugural tournament in 1950, only 6 teams participated in Argentinian capital, Buenos Aires, where the home team beat USA in the final. Since then the number of participants has gone up. In the run up to the World Cup, qualification tournaments were held to choose 18 teams from various FIBA zones since hosts and Olympic champions USA qualified automatically. The zones were allocated two berths each with additional berths sanctioned according to the strengths of the teams in certain zones. Thus; for the Spain World Cup, FIBA Europe got 6 berths; FIBA Americas got 4, FIBA Asia and Africa 3 each and FIBA Oceania got 2. The remaining 4 berths were left to be filled up by wild card entries. As of October 31, 2013, FIBA had received 15 wild-card applications from Nigeria, Brazil, Canada, Venezuela, China, Qatar, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Finland, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Poland, Russia and Turkey. Before the date for the Barcelona draw on February 3, 2014, Italy and Germany withdrew their claims for financial reasons. FIBA had insisted on an entrance fee of 1 million euros but Germany was only willing to pay 300,000 euros. Similarly, Italian Basketball Federation could not go beyond 800,000 euros. Later China and Russia also withdrew without assigning any sound reasons, though China later indicated their inability to participate because they couldn’t form a viable team. Two days before the draw, FIBA released an official communiqué, which said that the 4 wild card berths have been assigned to Brazil, Finland, Greece and Turkey.
With the draw completed, the stage was set for the Spain World Cup basketball tournament 2014. In the past the erstwhile Yugoslavia have won the tournament five times, USA four times and the erstwhile Soviet Union three times. After 1998, the winners of the FIBA Basketball World Cup have celebrated their big moments by holding the Naismith Trophy, which bears the name of the founder of the game of basketball.
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