Despite an utterly dismal performance at the 2019 FIBA World Cup, Team USA still manages to retain its No. 1 FIBA World Rankings.
The Americans got a lot of possibly still-deserved respect in the updated rankings. That said, thanks to Spain’s impressive capturing of the gold at the World Cup, they’ve narrowed the gap between them and the top nation on the board.
USA has a 786 rating, while Spain is not too far off in second place with a 731 rating. Both Australia and Argentina, get well-deserved bumps up the ladder thanks to their respective commendable runs in the tournament. Australia is now ranked third in the world with a 673 rating, while Argentina sits at fourth with just three points separating them with a 670 rating.
France and Serbia take fifth and sixth places in the rankings, respectively, with 665 and 661 rankings. Both teams slid down to those spots after being bumped down by the Aussies and Argentinians.
Meanwhile, Greece, Lithuania, Russia and the Czech Republic round out the top-10. The Czechs have the biggest leap among top-10 teams, crashing into the fray with a 596 ranking and jumping 14 spots. They definitely turned a lot of heads with their gutsy play in the World Cup, making them the Cinderella-favorites in the tournament’s narrative.
Speaking of narratives, Team USA will be looking to turn theirs around with a chapter on redemption in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. They flew back home, unable to really hold their heads held high. As the favorites to win the World Cup, it was a steep fall from grace to wind up in seventh place – their worst finish in recent memory.
Top stars now want to play in the Olympics. Stephen Curry, a two-time World Cup champion but never an Olympian, reiterated on Wednesday that he intends to play for Team USA in the Olympics. Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers has also stated that he wants to play. We could soon witness the formation of a “Redeem Team 2.0.”
That is, however, easier said than done. Even Kobe Bryant, a former member of the original 2008 Redeem Team that grabbed the gold in Beijing, China, says that a second Redeem Team could be hard to form for the USA.
As far as he’s concerned, the era where we can expect Team USA to be handed out “automatic” gold medals in basketball could be over – regardless of who is on the roster.
At the end of the day, the results of the 2019 FIBA World Cup send a clear message. The world has caught up with the USA in the sport of basketball. If they want to stay on top, they will have to innovate, adapt and take the game, their game, to a whole nother level.