Only a week ago, chances were that Argentina would win the World Cup, 100 to 1, a lack of faith best explained by a squad without a player currently playing in the NBA. Argentina’s best-known face was a grizzled 39-year-old who has been playing in China for two years. But the Argentines are on their way home with silver, thanks to a beautiful style of play that prioritizes ball movement, cohesion and activity.
Point Guard Facundo Campazzo shone so brightly with the ball in his hands – 62 assists, second most in the tournament, including some real narcotics – that he sent many viewers (myself included) to Google to find out how long his contract with Real Madrid running. (The answer, unfortunately: until 2024. He has an NBA-out clause but is reportedly in no hurry to move on from a great situation in Spain.) The reigning Spanish league MVP Nicols Laprovéttola and young ball handler Luca Vildoza Campazzo joined on a dynamic backcourt, while striker Gabriel Deck flashed up a stubborn game of do-everything and Luis Scola became the subject of the tournament, while continuing to withdraw his international compatriots after the end of his “Golden Generation” , Watching the 39-year-old Scola dominate a French team headed by Rudy Gobert, just one lap after Gobert hammered Team USA, was really wild and inspired a lot of takes like this from Montenegro / Orlando Magic Center Nikola Vucevic:
You are not alone, Vooch. Shouts to one of the coolest stories, and the most fun team to watch, in the World Cup field.
I almost forgot to involve our neighbors to the north here, in large part because the defeats against Australia and Lithuania in their first two games in a brutal group H essentially ended their World Cup, before the bulk of the world actually took care.
The Americans and Canadians had the same difficulty getting top talents to compete with NBA players Tristan Thompson, Jamal Murray, Andrew Wiggins, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Trey Lyles, Dwight Powell, Dillon Brooks and Chris Boucher, as well as first-round draft picks RJ Barrett, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, and Brandon Clarke all opt-out from the Canadian squad. The result was a greatly outnumbered squad led by Kings Guard Cory Joseph and big men Kelly Olynyk (who missed the tournament after injury in the show) and Khem Birch. Canada stumbled to a 2: 3 record in China, good for 21st place in a 32-man field.
If Canada wants to make it to the Olympics next summer in Tokyo, it has to win one of four Olympic qualifiers in July to win a place. Given how much Canadian talent continues to enter the highest levels of professional basketball and how much passion there is for the sport following the biggest Raptors season, that’s not exactly the situation Canada Basketball hoped for after this summer – and it’s one that could stop Canada from making its first appearance at the Summer Games since 2000.
The glass half-blow: France took bronze at its second World Cup, returned to the medal after a disappointing 12th place finish at EuroBasket 2017 and celebrated a historic win over Team USA in the quarter-finals. They followed this huge victory with an unpleasant performance against Argentina in the semifinals, with Gobert and Nicolas Batum combined for six points on nine shots, Fournier fighting against foul problems, and the offensive momentum and defensive intensity largely missing out on US earnings.
29 other teams liked to exchange seats with France and took home their bronze medals. But considering how well her defense looked for long stretches of the competition and how high she drove after Team USA’s victory, a double-digit semi-final defeat made her a bit disappointing from the race for her first gold in a competition since EuroBasket 2013 be.
“I think we could get a better color,” said Gobert, after beating Australia for bronze. To get one in Tokyo next summer, France will have to avoid the unsuitable letdowns they have sometimes plagued over the years and back in China.
Loser: Giannis Antetokounmpo
On the way to the World Cup, we wondered if the NBA’s incumbent MVP could be enough to lift Greece to its first medal in a major international competition in a decade and put its country on the shortlist of teams that are capable , the worlds best. Instead, Antetokounmpos light art was buried in China.
The combination of a roster that lacked firing and creativity to unleash it, and a FIBA ruleset, space size and play style that defused its strengths helped to captivate the Bucks superstar. Antetokounmpo averaged 14.8 points, 8.8 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 2.4 steals in 24.9 minutes per game and made his oversized presence only noticeable against New Zealand, as he scored 24 points with 10 rebounds and six assists scored to help Greece to second place. Group stage. However, he was calmer against Team USA and ended the late-game (which looked like a false call) against the Czech Republic, which helped to thwart Greece’s chances of advancing to the knockout round. It’s not entirely Giannis’s fault that he did not shine brighter. Nevertheless, his run came as a kind of Bummer.
Winner: Global Basketball
After winning gold at the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics and continuing five unbeaten runners to fame in the international game since 2008.
“Better teams have come to the final, and that should not surprise anyone, because there are many great teams in the world,” said Popovich to reporters after the US won their seventh place victory over Poland. “It is not set in stone that the United States should go to a championship.”
This has been felt in the last ten years, but not anymore. Even the more senior US squads that have developed to the last three Olympics have had to make one or two victories, and the rest of the world will only get better. As my Ringer team-mate Zach Kram recently noted, about a quarter of the players in the NBA were born somewhere other than in the US; As Tommy Beer of Forbes noted, this includes the incumbent MVP of the League (Antetokounmpo, Greece), Rookie of the Year (Luka Doncic, Slovenia), Defensive Player of the Year (Gobert, France) and Most Improved Player (Pascal Siakam, Cameroon).
The US still has a great advantage in the depth of talent. But if you combine the rising quality of international players, the number of players well drilled on the differences in the FIBA game, and the dwindling mystique associated with the game against US teams, the distance becomes smaller and smaller. The American Empire could fight back next summer. But beyond that? The future of international basketball could be more than ever to win.
“I think at the beginning of the tournament I said there are five, six, seven teams that can win this thing,” said Popovich. “And I think it will be like this all the time.”