Basketball: Spain Goes Undefeated to Win Men’s FIBA World Cup

Spain won their second ever title by going undefeated at the 2019 FIBA Men’s World Cup. The World Cup also doubled as the continental qualifier where the top two highest ranked European and Pan American nations and the highest ranked Africa, Asian and Oceania nation qualified to the Olympics. In total, 32 teams competed across eight groups where the top two teams advance to the second stage while the bottom two teams played in the classification stage. Afterwards teams advanced to the quarterfinals where a single elimination bracket was held. The FIBA Men’s World Cup was held across eight cities in China from August 31st to September 15th 2019.

The preliminary group stage showcased the strength of Europe and Pan American nations as they occupied 15/16 top positions. Australia was the only nation not from those continents to advance to the second round as they won Group H. By being the only Oceania nation to advance they qualified to the Olympics. The other group winners were Poland, Argentina, Spain, Serbia, the United States, Brazil and France.

The bottom 16 teams played in four classification groups. Their previous round performances were also carried over. This is where the African and Asian quotas were decided. The African quotas came down to Nigeria and Tunisia while the Asian quotas came down to China and Iran with the Nigeria vs. China match ultimately deciding which nations will qualify. Nigeria won that match 86-73 thanks to a consistent performance against China. This allowed them to win the African quota while Iran was able to win the Asian quota due to having a better goal differential than China.

The second group stage also had the previous round’s performances carried over as 16 teams competed across four groups with the top two nations advancing to the next round. The four group winners were Argentina, Spain, the United States and Australia while Poland, Serbia, the Czech Republic and France advanced as the second placed teams. As only two Pan American nations reached the quarter-finals Argentina and the United States qualified to the Olympics.

Arguably the largest upset occurred in the quarterfinals where the United States, the current two-time champions lost to France 89-79 despite holding a seven-point lead during the fourth quarter. France along with Spain who defeated Poland 90-78 qualified to the Olympics by being the only European teams to reach the semi-finals. The other semi-finalists were Argentina and Australia who defeated Serbia and the Czech Republic 97-87 and 82-70 respectively.

One of the highlight matches came in the semi-finals where Australia and Spain had to go to double overtime to decide which team would advance to the final. Spain broke down Australia to win the second overtime 15-8 and won the overall match 95-88. The other semi-final was won by Argentina who defeated France 80-66. Spain would go on to win the title over Argentina thanks to a strong first and third quarter 95-75. The bronze medal was won by France who defeated Australia 67-59.

This is Spain’s second title as they won previously in 2006. As for future Olympic qualification, the final four spots will be decided over four six team tournaments. The top 16 nations at the World Cup which failed to qualify to the Olympics along with the top two highest ranked teams from each continent will compete in one of these tournaments to be held in 2020.

Qualified Nations

Men’s Tournament
* Argentina
* Australia
* France
* Iran
* Nigeria
* Spain
* United States

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