FIBA World Championship Primer

Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images
by Joe Gabriele Managing Editor

With all the huge news that has swirled around the Wine and Gold this offseason – hiring a new coach and GM, landing the No. 1 pick in the Draft, finishing off a successful Summer League and, of course, the return of LeBron James – fans have almost forgotten that Cavaliers teammates Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters are working out in Vegas right now for the FIBA Basketball World Cup that tips off in about a month.

The FIBA Basketball World Cup was known as the “FIBA World Championship” from 1950 until 2010. Aside from the Summer Olympics, it’s the biggest event in international basketball competition.

Naturally, will cover all the results after Team USA tips off Tournament play against Finland on August 30 in Bilbao (3:30 p.m. ET).

But while Kyrie and Dion toil on the practice floor for the Stars and Stripes in Sin City, here’s a Team USA/FIBA World Cup primer to get you prepped for next month’s international invitational in Spain.


  • The 24-team Tourney starts on August 30 in four different cities in Spain – Granada, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Seville and the northern city of Bilbao, where Team USA takes on Finland. (Team USA will also play exhibition games in Chicago, New York and Gran Canaria.) The elite eight, quarter- and semi-finals take place in Barcelona and Madrid and the Gold and Bronze Medal Games will be played in Madrid on September 14.

  • Of the 24 teams selected to play, two got automatic berths: Spain, the host country, and the United States, the Gold-medal winning team from the 2012 Olympics. Other countries qualifying are three FIBA Africa teams (Angola, Egypt and Senegal), three FIBA Asia teams (Iran, Philippines and South Korea), six FIBA Europe teams (France, Lithuania, Croatia, Slovenia, Ukraine and Serbia), two FIBA Oceania teams (Australia and New Zealand) and, finally, four Wildcard selections: Brazil, Finland, Greece and Turkey.

  • Team USA’s six-team bracket (Group C) includes New Zealand, Turkey, Finland, Ukraine and the Dominican Republic.

  • Team USA began training camp this past Monday with a six-day training camp in which an 18-man roster will be shaved down to 12 players.

  • Kyrie and Dion represented the Wine and Gold at the U.S. National Team’s mini-camp last year in Las Vegas. Irving was dominant in those practices and his inclusion with the U.S. National Team in late January was almost a forgone conclusion. The former Blue Devil has had a pretty good summer – inking an extension to remain with the Cavaliers for the foreseeable future while welcoming a fellow All-Star MVP to the squad.

  • ”This is the time that you look forward to as a competitor – playing against the best every single day, learning from the best,” said Kyrie, who’s been sporting No. 23 during workouts in Vegas. “This is just a great chance just to compete, especially during the offseason like this. You don’t necessarily get the opportunity to have so many pros, All-Stars and MVPs come into one place and compete. Just to be part of something bigger than yourself is something you look forward to as a player.”

  • Dion Waiters – wearing uniform No. 46 during workouts – was one of 13 players named to the USA Men’s Select Team that’ll train from July 28-21 with the National Team. Waiters, the Eastern Conference’s top bench scorer one season ago, gets his second run with the National Team in as many summers. Being named to the Select Team is no small honor; it’s where current Team USA fixtures like Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, Kevin Love and Russell Westbrook got their start.

  • Waiters joins a Select Team that includes Harrison Barnes (GSW), Trey Burke (UTA), Jimmy Butler (CHI), Draymond Green (GSW), Tim Hardaway Jr. (NYK), Tobias Harris (ORL), Doug McDermott (CHI), Victor Oladipo (ORL), Mason Plumlee (BKN), Miles Plumlee (PHX), Marcus Smart (BOS) and Cody Zeller (CHA).

  • Irving joins the U.S. National Team that includes Bradley Beal (WAS), DeMarcus Cousins (SAC), Stephen Curry (GSW), Anthony Davis (NOP), DeMar DeRozan (TOR), Andre Drummond (DET), Kevin Durant (OKC), Kenneth Faried (DEN), Paul George (IND), Blake Griffin (LAC), James Harden (HOU), Gordon Hayward (UTH), Kyle Korver (ATL), Damian Lillard (POR), Kevin Love (MIN), Chandler Parsons (DAL), Derrick Rose (CHI) and Klay Thompson (GSW).

  • Earlier this week, Minnesota’s Kevin Love joined a list of players – including Portland’s LaMarcus Aldridge, San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard and L.A.’s Blake Griffin – who have declined for various reasons to participate in the World Cup tournament. Atlanta’s Paul Milsap was added to the squad on July 27.

  • The 2014-16 National Team coaching staff features USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski, with assistants Jim Boeheim, Tom Thibodeau and Monty Williams.

  • Irving and Waiters aren’t the only two members of the Cavaliers participating in the FIBA World Cup. Anderson Varejao will play with his Brazilian squad, which opens against France in Granada. Andy has played in two previous FIBA World Championships (2010 and 2006) and also averaged 7.3 points and 7.0 boards for Brazil in the 2012 Olympics. In his myriad FIBA appearances, Andy’s averaged 10.2 points, 6.9 boards and 1.5 assists per game.

  • The other international member of the Cavaliers to suit up for the World Cup is sophomore Matthew Dellavedova, whose Australian squad opens against Slovenia in Gran Canaria. Delly averaged 7.3 points, 3.8 boards and 4.5 assists for the Boomers in his five FIBA competitions, including the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

  • Aside from the Cavaliers’ quartet, some familiar faces and names competing at this year’s World Cup tourney in Spain include: Tiago Splitter, Nene Hilario and Leandro Barbosa joining Andy on the Brazilian team; Nicolas Batum, Boris Diaw and Nando deColo suiting up for France; Serge Ibaka, Ricky Rubio, Paul and Marc Gasol, Rudy Fernandez and Jose Calderon leading the Spanish squad; the former Gold-medal winning Argentine team that features Manu Ginobili, Carlos Delfino, Luis Scola, Andres Nocioni and Pablo Prigioni.

  • Other NBA players and alum competing in the tourney include: Nenad Krstic and Bogdan Bogdanovic (Serbia), Dino Saric (Croatia), Nick Calathes and Giannis Antetokounmpo (Greece); Carlos Arroyo and Renaldo Balkman (Puerto Rico), Gustavo Ayon and former Canton Charge guard Jorge Gutierrez (Mexico), Gorgui Dieng (Senegal), Francisco Garcia (Dominican Republic), Enes Kanter and Omer Asik (Turkey), and finally Donatas Motiejunas and Jonas Valanciunas (Lithuania).

  • Team USA’s all-time record in the FIBA Championship is 114-27. They’ve never lost to teams such as Australia and Canada. Their all-time mark against Yugoslavia is 4-6 and is 4-5 against Russia. The U.S. National team is 7-5 all-time against Brazil.

  • The World Championships, which began in 1950, has had six different Gold medal-winning countries. Yugoslavia has won the Gold five times, the U.S. on four occasions, the Soviet Union thrice, Brazil twice and Spain and Argentina finishing with one Gold medal apiece. Team USA has also won the Silver medal three times and the Bronze on four occasions.

  • The U.S. won the 2010 World Championships in Istanbul, topping Turkey – 81-64 – behind Kevin Durant’s 28 points in the title game. Turkey won the Silver medal, with Lithuania taking the Bronze.