Basketball World Cup 2019 Review
The Basketball World Cup 2019 is now entered into the history books and followers can now take a breath and look back on what was a stunning renewal of the competition. The World Cup may not be the biggest tournament in the sport, but it is growing in popularity and is fast becoming one of the most exciting knockout plays to watch.
Featuring the biggest names in professional basketball, it’s a real talent show but this year’s outing will be remembered as one of the most dramatic in recent times. Play took place between 31 August and 15 September in China with eight different host cities playing a part in the organisation, including Beijing, Shanghai, Nanjing and Wuhan.
Four different continents provided the 32 qualified teams, with the original line-up consisting of Angola, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Senegal, Tunisia, Australia, China, Iran, Japan, Jordan, New Zealand, Philippines, South Korea, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Montenegro, Poland, Russia, Serbia, Spain, Turkey, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, United States and Venezuela.
Traders Scramble to Support Team USA
The early betting saw a scramble amongst bookmakers to throw their support behind the chances of Team USA and punters looking to get their cash down on the outcome of the Basketball World Cup found the United States as red-hot favourites in the betting ring. All major firms were in agreement on that one, meaning there wasn’t a lot of value to be had for those eager to support the market leaders with their hard-earned cash.
That forced punters to either back the jolly at increased stakes, take a punt on a plucky outsider and oppose the favourite or play one of the many specials markets that were made available before a ball had been touched. Major online betting firms made available dozens of exciting markets in the ante-post betting and there were even more attached to the individual games. Backers could get their cash down on the winner of each match as a single bet or add a few together to create a nice priced multiple. Small stakes for big returns was the aim with the latter.
Each game also carried a number of in-play markets and this meant a bet was always possible, even for those who had missed the start. If basketball isn’t your strongest sport, you could watch the live TV action and form an opinion on the side most likely to win before gambling your cash on the in-play betting markets, including outright and handicap. A punt was as exciting in the final few points as it was before the start and that caught the imagination of players.
No Lack of Shocks and Surprises
There was no lack of shock results and surprise scorelines during the 2019 World Cup. The most alarming of them all, however, was the fact the pre-tournament favourites put in their worst ever performance at a World Cup. Very few saw that coming. They may have started as betting favourites but got nowhere near living up to expectations and the hype created around the team. Backers who followed the market and had their cash down on the USA came out of the competition empty-handed, having followed the wrong side.
Another team who were expected to do well and didn’t get near winning the prize was Australia. They travelled with a young, ambitious and talented side with many of their star names being regulars in the NBA. The Aussies were picked out as a bit of a dark horse before play began and there were a few seemingly shrewd backers with their cash down in support of Australia’s chances. Like the USA, they failed to deliver the goods when things got serious.
France Stun the Favourites in Quarter-Final Upset
The USA was beaten by France at the quarter-finals stage in China and that was a result that sent shockwaves throughout the sport. The holders of the trophy lost out by a score of 89–79 and that was their first defeat in 58 international games, a run of form that can be traced all the way back to 2006. It also put an end to their chances of completing the hat-trick and winning three World Cup titles on the bounce. It was little wonder supporters were left upset and punters astonished by what they had witnessed.
It was a thrilling contest that swung back and forth before we got the result. France got themselves into a commanding position and showed a 51-41 lead in the third quarter, but America showed their stomach for a fight, battling back to go 72-65 in front with time ticking away. There was time for one final twist in the tale, however. France jumped back into the game thanks to Evan Fournier who scored 22 points while Rudy Gobert chipped in with 21 of his own. It took a real team effort to see off the might of USA, but those two players stood head and shoulders above the pack that day and deserved their place in the semi-finals.
The reward for beating the USA was a match against Argentina but they weren’t able to repeat the feat and ended on the wrong side of the result that day. There looked to be a bit of a hangover in the team from the glory of upsetting the odds against the USA and many now had France picked to go and book a place in the grand finale, but they weren’t able to get over the line. It was Argentina who came out on top thanks to a hard-fought 80-66 win. Another entertaining game of basketball but one that produced the correct result in the end. Argentina fully deserved their place in the last two and was determined to stand up and be counted when it mattered.
Aussies Come Up Short Again
In the other semi-final, we saw Spain come out on top with a win over Australia. That game looked a real 50/50 on paper going in as Spain and Australia faced off for a place in the final. The match divided opinion early on but and it was little wonder as these rivals looked evenly matched throughout the team. The game itself promised to be a thriller and it certainly lived up to expectations, although it was Spain who went through, the Aussies suffering the pain of an exit at the last four stage. The score that day read Spain 95-88 Australia and we now had our final.
The decider had to wait until the third-place play-off and there we saw France claim the bronze medal when beating Australia 67 to 59. A return for their efforts was nothing less than this talented French side deserved but it means Australia will, once again, be forced back to the drawing board as they look back on another failed campaign and one that saw them come up short when a big effort was expected. The Aussies didn’t disgrace themselves, of course, but their wait for a World Cup winners medal rumbles on and it’s anyone’s guess when that might end.
Spain Hold On to See Off Argentina
On Sunday 15 September we had our final pair with Spain and Argentina playing in Beijing. What we had seen previously in this competition made the Spaniards favourites, but punters had already witnessed a fair share of upsets and could be forgiven for not rushing out and trusting their cash to either side. There were many ways to bet on the final, including match winner, total points and handicap, but it was Spanish eyes who were smiling come the finish.
The victors got their hands on the prize courtesy of a 95-75 scoreline and that was about as convincing as they could’ve hoped for going in. It was the nation’s second-ever Basketball World Cup title and they also cleaned up in the other awards. Ricky Rubio was named the competition’s Most Valuable Player – a real honour for the 28-year-old Point Guard who currently plays for the Phoenix Suns in the NBA. Bogdan Bogdanovic of Serbia and the Sacramento Kings was recognised as the leading points scorer at the 2019 Basketball World Cup in China, recording a whopping 183 points throughout play.
Greece Turn on Officials
There was plenty for organisers and followers of international basketball to be proud of during the play in China, but the competition didn’t pass without incident. Greece was eliminated much earlier than expected and they didn’t take it well. The team took to the press following their final game at the tournament and called on the officials to be banned.
The team needed a win of 12 points or more against the Czech Republic to book a place in the quarter-finals, but they weren’t able to do that and vented their anger at the referee and his assistants. Coach Thanasis Skourtopoulos was left dismayed at some of the decisions that went against his players and was quick to point them out when addressing the worldwide press. The gaffer did take time to reflect on mistakes made by his team during the competition and apologised to fans who travelled to support Greece and were left feeling disappointed.
It seemed to many like sour grapes from the Greek side but that was not the only point of controversy involving the officials at this World Cup in China. It was recently announced that those involved in the match between France and Lithuania, the latter suffering a tournament-ending defeat, would not be permitted to officiate any other games at the tournament.
They missed an obvious basket interference from France and that seemed to cost their opponents a chance at winning the match. The officials took no action at the time and that allowed France to go on and collect a narrow 78-75 victory. Lithuania had every reason to be upset but can take some confidence from the fact those responsible were punished heavily for their mistake.
Next Up is 2023
The next FIBA Basketball World Cup will take place in 2023 and will be hosted between the Philippines, Japan and Indonesia. There are six host cities taking part that year with play scheduled to take place between 1 and 17 September. Will this be the year that allows the USA to bounce back and regain their place at the top of the tree or will we finally see Australia live up to expectations and become World Cup winners? Keep your eye on your online bookmaker of choice for any early betting offered.