May 24, 2024

Haka, bro connections, and more: Things to watch out for in FIBA World Cup

Haka, bro connections, and more: Things to watch out for in FIBA World Cup
Art by Royce Nicdao, One Sports

There's plenty of reasons to watch the FIBA World Cup starting this August.

Check out some of the fun stuff to catch, whether in the Smart Araneta Coliseum, the Mall of Asia Arena, and the Philippine Arena here in the Philippines; in the Okinawa Arena in Japan; or in the Indonesia Arena in Indonesia.

The Haka

New Zealand's ceremonial Maori dance will never fail to be captivating. It is usually performed to display a tribe's pride, strength, and unity. Witnessing it live often results in spine tingles and goosebumps all around. It's also cool to see how the other team reacts to the challenge.

Check out the Tall Blacks' haka against Gilas Pilipinas right inside the Mall of Asia Arena.

  

Scoring bros are the best bros

Splash Brothers who?

There's nothing better than brotherly love when it comes to team chemistry. Pau and Marc Gasol showed it when they won the World Cup for Spain in 2006. Juancho and Willy Hernangomez delivered it once again in 2019 and in EuroBasket 2022.

  

There's a reason why Willy was named EuroBasket MVP.

  

In 2023, the Hernangomez brothers are expected to bolster the number 1 team in the world, which is drawn in Group G and will play its preliminary round games in Indonesia.

In Group E, Franz and Moritz Wagner could also suit up for Germany. Franz was key to the Deutschland's third place finish in EuroBasket 2022.

 

Moritz, meanwhile, was part of Germany's Tokyo 2020 squad.

  

Other brothers who have played in FIBA competitions and could play in the World Cup are Goran and Zoran Dragic of Slovenia in Group F at the Okinawa Arena; Giannis Antetokounmpo and brothers Thanasis and Kostas of Greece in Group C at the Mall of Asia Arena; and Kiefer and Thirdy Ravena for Gilas Pilipinas in Group A at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

  

  

It starts and ends with the coach

EuroBasket 2022 showed coaches' decisions can make or break teams. And the fiery, emotional Gianmarco Pozzecco was a must-watch spectacle as he willed Italy to a stunning upset of powerhouse Serbia and Nikola Jokic in the Round of 16.

It also delivered this golden moment when Pozzecco jumped Greece's Giannis Antetokounmpo for a hug and a cheek kiss in celebration.

And we can expect more fiery coaches come August. One of them would be the Bay Area Dragons' Brian Goorjian as he returns to helm the Boomers of Australia. Who knows, maybe his feisty, no-nonsense style can push Ben Simmons to finally live up to his potential?

Gilas Pilipinas, of course, has the outspoken Chot Reyes at the helm.

  

Short players stand tall

Childe Dundao of Angola is just 167 cm tall. At 5-foot-6, he averaged 12.1 points, 3.1 rebounds, 3.6 assists to help his country qualify for the World Cup. He also casually recorded 3.3 steals per game, leading all players in the African Qualifiers. Height is might for the most part, but players like Dundao show that even small guys can stand tall in hoops.

  

Gilas also knows a thing or two about small but terrible players. Who can forget the 5-foot-10 Jimmy Alapag's booming triples from rainbow country in the 2014 FIBA World Cup?

  

Smallest country, biggest center?

Cape Verde may be the smallest country to qualify for the World Cup, at least for the 2023 edition. But this debutant has one of the tallest players in the competition: 7-foot center Walter "Edy" Tavares.

His most memorable moment is literally shattering the backboard during the AfroBasket, with the score tied at 66 and one minute remaining. That was fun. 

 

Maybe Gilas Pilipinas' 7-foot-3 center Kai Sotto can get his fair share of jams too, though breaking backboards is probably not his cup of tea.

  

Indeed, there is a lot to watch out for in the FIBA World Cup aside from world-class hoops, of course.

How about you, what are you most looking forward to see this August?

(MDB)