FIBA is changing the way teams qualifying for international basketball. Get ready to have your mind tested

FIBA is changing the way teams qualifying for international basketball. Get ready to have your mind tested

Looking at the brochures mapping out the new FIBA calendar and competition system starting in 2017, the first thought is – man, that’s a lot of arrows and lots of qualifying rounds, not to mention undefined “X” teams and there’s even an asterisk.

Oh boy, this ain’t gonna be an easy one to digest – and we haven’t even started looking at the format of the competitions.

So … FIBA has released details about the new competition system and calendar starting in 2017. Federations, teams, players, fans, sponsors and anyone else just wondering now have a better picture of how their teams can reach the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup.

heinnews put together this article about the new system for the German Press Agency dpa, so go ahead and read through that it will give you a general overview …

New FIBA calendar designed to increase national team exposure

Lille, France – A new era of international basketball was introduced on Tuesday as the sport’s world governing body FIBA presented details on the new competition system and global calendar starting in 2017.

Basketball leaders are hoping to increase the exposure of national federations by creating four national team windows throughout the year to qualify for major basketball events – similar to the process in football.

Instead of national teams only playing in the summer as is currently the case, they will be competing in November, February, June and September for nine days at a time. These national team windows will be used to qualify for both FIBA Basketball World Cups and continental championships in the future.

“This is about our sport. This is about growing basketball. We want to put something in place that will benefit all stakeholders,” FIBA Communications Director Patrick Koller told a press conference as part of EuroBasket 2015 in Lille, France.

“Your national team is coming home to an arena near you,” was the slogan on promotional material for the new system.

Starting in November 2017, all continents will have teams go through two rounds of home and away qualifiers to book spots at the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup, which will take place in China.

Twelve countries from Europe will advance after the second round to the 32-team World Cup while the Americas and Asia will both be represented by seven teams and five African countries will participate in the World Cup. Europe will start qualifiers with 32 teams while Africa, the Americas and Asia will all start with 16 teams with Australia and New Zealand taking part in the Asia zone.

The draw for the 2019 World Cup will take place in May 2017.

Only teams playing at the 2019 World Cup will be able to compete at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

The move was designed to give fans more chances to see their favourite players live while also providing domestic sponsors more opportunities to promote the teams, federations and players.

The federations also stand to benefit from the new system as the commercial rights for the games belong to the federations, who can use the qualifiers to generate more money.

The new qualifying campaign will likely help federations learn to bette organise events as well since they will have home games to co-ordinate and host. This will be a positive over the long term.

“It’s important to teach people how to fish, not give them a fish,” FIBA Sport & Competitions Director Predrag Bogosavljev said.

One of the biggest issues with the windows is that NBA players will not be available as the United States league will not shut down during the national team windows. FIBA does not expect to have NBA players – or collegiate players in the NCAA – for the November and February qualifying windows.

Europe’s elite continental league Euroleague – basketball’s equivalent to the UEFA Champions League – initially spoke out against the new system saying the participating clubs would not release their players. But the stance has since softened in public and the FIBA leaders are not expecting an issue.

“We expect Euroleague will stop (during the windows),” FIBA Executive Director Europe Kamil Novak said.

“We would all love to have the best in the NBA. But we have to live with it,” Koller said.

“This is the best system to get the best players in the main tournaments (World Cup or continental championships).”

The FIBA officials also emphasised that the new system will give players one summer off from national team duty – something that is not the case currently unless the player decides against playing or is injured.

“We needed to review the system because we could not just keep using the players again and again. This maximises the chance of having the NBA players in the big tournaments.”

… So, that’s the gist of it all.

The first round of World Cup qualifiers will take place in November 20-28, 2017; February 19-27, 2018; and June 26-July 3, 2018. The second round follows in September 17-25, 2018; November 26-December 4, 2018; and February 18-26, 2019. Come February 26, 2019, we will know the 32 teams who will compete at the 2019 World Cup as well as the possible teams for the 2020 Olympics.

The biggest fear out there about the new calendar is that some countries will not be able qualify without their NBA players. It’s not that difficult …

If you want to get to the World Cup from Europe, you have to finish in the top three of a four-team group and then grab a top-three finish in a six-team group.

Basta, that’s it. You’re in the World Cup.

Things are a bit different elsewhere in the world.

As opposed to the 32 initial teams in Europe, the other three continents (Australia and New Zealand are with Asia) have 16 teams. The top three of the four four-team groups move to a second round with two six-team groups. In the Americas and Asia, four teams from one of the groups and three from the other advance to the World Cup. In Africa, it’s three from one and two from the other group – for a total of five teams qualifying for the World Cup.

While figuring out how to increase the relevance of the World Cup – one of FIBA’s main goals in this whole new system besides bringing the game to the fans – FIBA also decided against weakening the status of the Olympics.

FIBA dispelled talk that the Olympics would become a U22 tournament, with FIBA Director of Communication Patrick Koller saying: “We still believe the Olympics is positive for basketball. We believe it’s wrong to downgrade the Olympics to improve the World Cup. We’re going to take it from the other side – grow the World Cup without downgrading the Olympics.”

But only teams participating in the World Cup can reach the Olympics – save for the host nation. FIBA is planning four Olympic Qualifying Tournaments – preferably on four different continents – to decide the final four spots in the Summer Olympics.

The brochure is pretty detailed and a bit complex, but if you really sit down and look at it, you can figure it out. Take your time though, because it isn’t that easy.

Not trying to figure out where they arrows go and making sense of all those rounds of games.

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If you want to have a look for yourself, here are the four FIBA regions qualifying broken down

Qualifiers 2015 Europe

Qualifiers 2015 Americas

Qualifiers 2015 Asia

Qualifiers 2015 Africa

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