Spain won the 2019 FIBA Men’s Basketball World Cup, dominating Argentina by a score of 95 to 75 on Sunday, September 15. The International Basketball Federation, also known as FIBA, organizes a world championship for the sport of basketball every four years. Leading up to the quadrennial event, teams must qualify through a series of exhibition matches. This years’ tournament, held throughout eight cities in China, showcased a plethora of young talent from around the globe.
The United States finished a disappointing seventh at the event, ending its streak of utter dominance at the tournament. The United States has historically been the most talented and most winningest team to play in the FIBA World Cup, as previous rosters were loaded with elite NBA talent. However, this year’s team lacked the big-name assets it is used to having. With another rigorous NBA season around the corner, many opted out of the opportunity in fear of risking both physical and mental health and wear. As a result, the United States was shorthanded in terms of sheer talent.
Despite the team’s seventh-place finish, the United States retained the world’s number one ranking in the sport of basketball. It will have a chance to reassert its dominance at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan. These Olympic games will feature the biggest faces of the NBA, arguably the world’s most talented and competitive basketball league. Players like Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors have already committed to playing for the United States, among other NBA all-stars. Curry reports that the team will surely be looking to reestablish world dominance in what was once America’s sport.
Nevertheless, Spain’s championship victory was quite phenomenal. Though the team was not expected to go far before the tournament began, Spain proved it has the talent and capability of winning at the world’s biggest stage. The competition’s runner-up, Argentina, led by former NBA player Luis Scola, also showcased incredible talent, exceeding expectations on all levels. The two teams silenced critics throughout the tournament, indicating that basketball is, in fact, becoming more of a global interest and talent, as opposed to the traditional superiority of the United States.
Spain, led by the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) Marc Gasol of the Toronto Raptors and Ricky Rubio of the Phoenix Suns, won the tournament in style, capping off an 8-0 showing with a finals victory. For Marc Gasol, it was quite a historic win, as he became just the second player to ever win an NBA title and a FIBA world gold medal in the same calendar year. The tournament’s Most Valuable Player (MVP), Ricky Rubio, led Spain throughout the competition, pouring in 20 points in the championship match to boost Spain to victory. It was the Spaniards’ second FIBA World Cup title in the nation’s history.
By Sanjay Palta