FIBA Introduces Controversial Format Changes

Luol Deng GB vs Spain Olympics

Luol Deng GB vs Spain OlympicsFIBA has announced a number of different changes that are due to be implemented beginning in 2017.

Following its Central Board meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Saturday, FIBA has decided to introduce a new format and calendar of competition that have been met with much criticism.

The key changes from FIBA, are as follows:

The key principles agreed for the new competition format and calendar for men from 2017 are the following:

• After the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain, the next edition will be moved to 2019 (instead of 2018) and will be played every four years from then on. A total of 32 teams (increased from 24) will participate in FIBA’s flagship event.

• The qualification period for the FIBA Basketball World Cup will be held over the course of two years and consist of six windows which will be in November (2017), February, June, September, November (2018) and February (2019). The exact period and length of these windows will be defined in the coming months in collaboration with all stakeholders. The national teams will be divided into two divisions – Division A and Division B – with groups of three or four teams in an open system with promotion and relegation. Games in the qualification period will be played in a home-and-away format.

• Asia and Oceania will play in a combined Asia-Pacific region to qualify for the FIBA Basketball World Cup, but universality will remain in place for the qualifying process to the Olympic Games.

• As of 2017, the continental championships will take place every four years (2017, 2021, 2025) with a similar system of qualification as for the FIBA Basketball World Cup and which will come into action after FIBA’s flagship event in 2019. The windows will follow the same principle as the qualifying process to the FIBA Basketball World Cup but will be adapted in the Olympic years (2020, 2024).

• The qualification for the 2020 Olympics will be through the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup and four Olympic Qualifying Tournaments to be held in four zones.

The biggest issue arises through the qualification windows for the World Cup being in February, June, September and November; three of these months are during the NBA season.

Will the NBA adjust their schedule to accommodate this? Unlikely. Meaning all the best players in the world won’t be participating, and leaving GB with the prospect of no Luol Deng and Joel Freeland.

It has been said the Euroleague, ULEB and FIBA Europe were all against the reforms, the Secretary General of the Lithuanian Federation has openly criticized the changes (“will anyone be interested in a competition where teams will play with their second squads because there will be no NBA or Euroleague players?”), whilst other analysts have taken to Twitter to voice their disapproval:

Tom Ziller seems to have summed it up perfectly over on SBNation:

…the teams with NBA or Euroleague players will be at a distinct disadvantage. (The Euroleague could adjust its schedule, given that it’s already pretty light. Domestic leagues in Europe may also do the same. But it’s worth nothing that the European leagues opposed FIBA’s shift.) What’s France without Tony Parker, Joakim Noah, Nicolas Batum and Boris Diaw? What’s Russia without Andrei Kirilenko and Alexey Shved? What’s Montenegro without Nikola Pekovic? These NBA players will be allowed to play in less than half of FIBA’s qualification windows, which could seriously squelch their countries’ ability to qualify for this expanded World Cup.

So this is what we’re left with: primarily second-string teams will compete for spots in the World Cup and Olympics during the traditional league season (when no one will be paying attention), and then the stars might be helicoptered in to perform in those big events, which will be held in back-to-back summers. We’re left with a Team USA that needs to win every big tournament to avoid playing high school kids in qualification rounds. We’re left with seemingly no one happy, and a product that hardly seems stronger in the wash.

Good job, FIBA. You’ve really outdone yourself this time.

What do you think about the changes? Let us know in the comments!

  • Coach Rob K

    I wonder if FIBA have done it for that very reason. To stop Team USA dominating the world tournaments? It would not surprise me if they had.

  • Reggie

    Once again FIBA are trying to copy the FIFA model !!!
    When will they learn, it’s just no the same culture as the way Soccer is run.
    However, saying that, I’m happy Eurobasket has moved to every FOUR years instead of every two. That is a good idea by all means.
    A few things I would also like FIBA to do…
    1. Increase the court sizes !!!! Far too small at the moment. You would think after increasing the 3 point line, they would make the court larger to accommodate the space for players. Make it the same size as the NCAA and NBA courts.
    2. Implement the rule where players can call timeouts as well as the coaches.
    3. Remove Spain from the 2013 Eurobasket. Spain are hosts for the 2014 FIBA World Cup and they don’t need to qualify from the Eurobasket tournament, so why the f*ck are they playing in the Eurobasket… save that for teams who are actually trying to get to the Worlds. (GB need to finish in the top 6 to qualify… although Spain are likely to finish within that 6, so a 7th spot would be ok.) Spain should not be participating in it. Period.


  • Rob

    Eurobasket is a tournament to be won, not just a qualification tourney. Why on earth shouldn’t Spain be in it? GB won’t finish in the top 12, let alone top 6, so we don’t really need to worry about that.

    FIBA changes are insane, they’ve killed Eurobasket (run by FIBA Europe) and are trying to kill the Olympics in the name of the new World Cup. This has “NBA approved” all over it. The NBA doesn’t care about Team USA either.

  • D


    Whilst your other suggestions have some merit, I would be totally against allowing timeouts to be called by players in live game situations.
    I hate that rule, gives a completely unfair advantage to the offensive team in terms of getting out of traps or other defensive situations.
    The fact that they are ‘wasting’ a time out that could be used later is of no consolation imo.

  • Reggie

    Fair points from y’all..
    But, with the timeout thing, the fact that players in the NBA, and college kids can call them, why shouldn’t the rest of the world?
    I’m also unsure if FIBA should import the Basket-interference rule… there are pros and cons for it and against it. FIBA are generally more aligned to follow the NBA than vice-versa, so I wouldn’t be surprised if this rule was implemented in the near future.
    The court sizes should be the same as the NBA though, no question! They are horribly small now.
    The Eurobasket should just be a qualification tournament. The Americas, Oceania, Asia and African are all Olympic and World qualification tournaments. So why does Europe have to have their own identity……. the Eurobasket is not prestigious as the Worlds or Olympics. Just make it a qualifying tournament is what I say.
    And with regards to how well GB will do?
    Well, they will struggle, a lot !
    If they are without Deng, Gordon, Mullens…….. they can forget it.

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