FIBA has overhauled the qualifying format for both Major Tournaments (FIBA World Cup and IOC’s Olympic Games) and Continental Cups.
In an exciting opportunity for Basketball Australia to further showcase our Golden Age of Basketball, the National Team will play regular qualifying games on home soil commencing in November 2017 with qualifying for the 2019 FIBA World Cup to be held in China.
In addition, Australia and New Zealand Men’s Basketball Teams will now qualify through an Asia-Pacific Region.
Basketball Australia CEO, Anthony Moore and FIBA’s Director of Events Predrag Bogosavljev announced the changes in a Press Conference at Rod Laver Arena this morning.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity,” said Moore. “It makes the inaccessible accessible.”
Australia and New Zealand will continue to be zoned to FIBA Oceania, but the Oceania teams will qualify against those from Asia, which can only boost our development, our exposure and of course our opportunity to see the Boomers play in major games on home soil more frequently.
“In the previous system, turning up once every two years to qualify for a World Cup or an Olympic Games, which is what we’ve got tomorrow, this provides the opportunity for us to have [through the competition windows set out] more regular opportunity for the Boomers to be on home soil and playing home and away matches that actually mean something,” Moore added.
“They are genuine qualifying matches, and we’ve seen the benefit that has provided with the Socceroos in Football.”The change will also allow for younger players to have the opportunity to represent their countries more frequently during qualifying stages, as with games scheduled during November and February, our NBA and NCAA talent likely won’t be available.
Those competing in the NBL and European Leagues (governed by FIBA) will be released for National Team commitments wherever possible.
It’s seen as win for all as it will also dramatically reduce the workload for NBA players who had previously been required for all FIBA qualifying stages in addition to their professional seasons. Often this came at the expense of their off-seasons meaning little rest.
“One summer in the 4-year cycle is completely free of major events,” said Bogosavljev. “By doing so, you are dramatically reducing the workload of those star players.”
A trend of making those players unavailable was growing and these changes should serve to address that with players now able to focus on major events only, while emerging players have the opportunity to step up in qualifying rounds.
“We also wanted to have a clear road to the major events,” added Bogosavljev. “By introducing the qualifiers to the World Cup and the qualifiers to the Continental Championships, which are exactly the same all around the world, played in the same windows and similar formats, it is really helping everyone to understand what is going on worldwide and will contribute to the success of our events in every respect.”
The Continental Championship will be known as the Asian Cup (similar to FIFA) and will be played every 4 years starting in 2017.
Moore alluded to the possibility of Australia bidding to host that event or the next one to be held in 2021.
The Men’s FIBA World Cup moves away from the FIFA World Cup and will now be one year before each Olympic Games competition, with the next one to be held in China in 2019 ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The advantage of having these major events in a friendly time zone is not lost on Moore as Basketball Australia continues to turn itself around.
“We’ve got an Olympics in our time zone in 2020 and the FIBA World Cup in China in 2019 again, a major basketball event in our time zone, so how we set our business up to capitalise, commercialise and get our best talent on the floor, to showcase ourselves, these are opportunities that actually don’t come around and yet here we are with this amazing chance to be part of an enormous game.”
Changes may be coming for the Opals too, but Bogosavljev said the Women’s format is still being worked through.
The Key Changes for Men’s FIBA are as follows;
- FIBA Basketball World Cup moved to 2019, then every four years (2023, 2027, 2031, etc.), avoiding the clash with other major sporting events
- Two-year qualification period for each FIBA Basketball World Cup: Six windows per qualification period (Nov, Feb, June, Sept, Nov, Feb)
- FIBA Basketball World Cup played with 32 teams (1 Host, 5 from Africa, 7 from Americas, 7 from Asia/Oceania, 12 from Europe)
- Qualification for Olympic Games through FIBA Basketball World Cup and Olympic Qualifying Tournaments
- Asia and Oceania to play the qualification phase in an Asia-Pacific region to ensure competitive games
- All Continental Championships to follow four-year cycle (2017, 2021, 2025 etc.):
- Similar qualification system to start after each FIBA Basketball World Cup
- Same regular windows except during the Olympic summer
“We’re really excited that this opportunity has come. In my view it’s a game changer for us,” said Moore. “It’s the opportunity to actually take our Men’s National Team all around our big country. The opportunity to have them in Perth for meaningful matches or Townsville or Cairns or Sydney or Melbourne. It’s a significant win for us.”
Here’s hoping the first significant win comes tomorrow night in a packed arena, on free-to-air TV across the nation.