June 11, 2023

Which impressive milestone will we see happen in FIBA World Cup?

Which impressive milestone will we see happen in FIBA World Cup?
Art by Royce Nicdao

We get it. We’re all busy trying to know which NBA star will come to Philippine shores when the FIBA World Cup tips off in August.

But lest we forget, there are other things we can look forward to in the much-anticipated event co-hosted by the Philippines, Japan, and Indonesia. Maybe they're not the more interesting ones, but they are interesting nonetheless. 

Here are some of them:

6 titles for Team USA?

USA was relegated to 7th place in the 2019 edition of the quadrennial meet, its worst finish ever in the tournament. It also slipped to no. 2 in the world rankings afterward.

But here’s another reason for the Americans to field in Redeem Team 2.0: Should they win it all this year, they will become the country with the most titles with 6. 

Right now, USA and Yugoslavia have 5 each.

3 straight podiums for France?

With prospective 2023 NBA Draft top pick Victor Wembanyama expected to join France in the FIBA World Cup, the Les Bleus have every reason to at least reach the podium for the third straight time and become only the fifth country to do so in history after Brazil, Yugoslavia, the Soviet Union, and USA.

Can the French do it?

As early as now, Wembanyama is eyeing an upset of Team USA in the Olympics his country is hosting in 2024. Maybe he can give everyone an early treat and win it all this August too.

3 World Cup trophies for Rudy or Steph?

People don't realize it, but it's tough, for lack of a better term, to win the championship at this level. Even for powerhouse teams like the US and Spain.

Right now, there are only two active players who could end up with three FIBA World Cup titles: Rudy Fernandez of Spain (2006 and 2019) and USA’s Stephen Curry (2010 and 2014).

Who will get there first?

Second MVP for _____?

Kyrie Irving is as talented as he is enigmatic. Controversies follow him everywhere. But if the basketball gods decide to continue showering blessings upon him this time, maybe Uncle Drew can lead USA’s redemption drive and even win a second MVP in the process?

There are only three active players who could get a second MVP in the FIBA World Cup. The other two are Irving's former teammate Kevin Durant and reigning tournament MVP Ricky Rubio of Spain.

The MVP race is expected to be tight.

Can Marcelo Huertas defeat Father Time?

Forty. That’s the age of Marcelo Huertas, who is expected to lead the charge for Brazil anew this FIBA World Cup.

But before you count him out, remember Luis Scola? No, not the version of Scola from Gabe Norwood's poster dunk. We're referring to the Scola from 2019.

That year, a 39-year-old Scola steered Argentina to a silver medal finish in the FIBA World Cup, proving that age is not always a factor in the competition. 

This one’s ambitious, but can the Philippines return to the podium?

The Philippines is the only team outside the Americas or Europe to reach the podium of the conclave among the best basketball countries in the world.

It happened almost 70 years ago, though, when the Filipinos picked up the bronze medal in the second edition of the FIBA World Cup.

Maybe, just maybe, with a boisterous, partisan crowd here in Manila, Gilas Pilipinas can get a medal again?

Baka lang naman