basketball FIBA World Cup

FIBA World Cup winners, record, and other historic facts

The 19th edition of the FIBA World Cup will take place from August 25th to September 10th in the Philippines, Japan, and Indonesia. As the 32 of the best national basketball teams are getting ready for the major event, we will turn back the clock and look at the history of the competition.

FIBA World Cup winners, record, and other historic facts
Photo : SUSA / Icon Sport

FIBA World Cup history

The first ever FIBA World Cup was held in Argentina in 1950, mainly because that was the only country that was willing to take the task to organize such an event. The decision was made at a meeting of the FIBA World Congress at the 1948 Summer Olympics in London after the football World Cup was seen as a success.

Argentina won the inaugural FIBA World Cup. Brazil was the first nation to win back-to-back titles in 1959 and 1963. In 1967, the Soviet Union became the first team outside of the Americas to become the world champion. That was the decade when the dominance of the United States, Soviet Union, Brazil and Yugoslavia began as these four teams won all the medals until 1990.

The 1994 FIBA World Cup marked a beginning of a new era as the NBA players were representing the United States at the competition for the first time. Team USA won the title that year represented by the team that was called the Dream Team 2. Four years later, given the NBA lockout, Team USA showed up with non-NBA players and finished third behind the champion Yugoslavia and Russia as a runner-up.

In 2002, NBA players were back in the tournament, and they had a chance to represent the United States on home soil, but things did not go as expected. After 59 consecutive wins for Team USA with NBA players on the roster, Argentina put an end to their winning streak. Yugoslavia defeated Team USA in the next game as well, and later won the championship defeating the Argentinians in the final.

Spain won their first ever FIBA World Cup in 2006, leaving Greece second, and USA third. Finally in 2010, Team USA regain the title and repeated the success in the following tournament in 2014.

Following that tournament, FIBA made significant changes expanding the number of participants from 24 to 32. They also made sure the competition would no longer overlap with the FIFA World Cup and scheduled the next one for 2019. Seemingly out of nowhere, Spain won that World Cup beating Argentina in the finals while Team USA finished sixth, which was the first time since 2002 for them to finish without a medal.

FIBA World Cup winners, record, and other historic facts
TEAM of Spain celebrates during the 2019 FIBA World Cup – Photo by Herve Bellanger/Icon Sport

FIBA World Cup winners

The United States is the most successful nation in FIBA World Cup history. They have won 12 medals, five of which are gold, three silvers and four bronzes. Yugoslavia or Serbia has also won five golds, but are one medal short of Team USA, having four silvers and two bronzes.

Four more teams have ever won the FIBA World Cup. Soviet Union has three titles, Brazil and Spain two and Argentina has one. A total of eight other teams have won medals at the previous tournaments. Greece and Turkey have one silver, Chile and France two bronzes and Croatia, Germany, Lithuania and the Philippines, one bronze medal each.

FIBA World Cup greats

There are seven players who have won a record four medals at the FIBA World Cup. Kresimir Cosic and Drazen Dalipagic from Yugoslavia Wlamir Marques, Amaury Pasos and Ubiratan Pereira Maciel “Bira” from Brazil and Alexander Belostenny and Sergei Belov from the Soviet Union.

Luis Scola
Luis Scola – Photo: Kareem Elgazzar/USA TODAY Sports/Sipa USA
Photo by Icon Sport

Oscar Schmidt from Brazil is the all-time leading scorer with 906 total points, followed by Argentinian Luis Scola with 716 and Andrew Gaze from Australia with 594.

The Greek legend Nicos Galis has the highest scoring average at the FIBA World Cup with impressive 33.7 points per game. Shin Dong-pa from South Korea is second with 32.6 and Schmidt is third with 26.7.

Another South Korean player is high in the record books. Hur Jae has scored the most points in a single game 54 in 1990, one more than Galis scored in 1986. Third on the list is Schmidt with 52, also scored in 1990.

Luis Scola and the “Bira” have played the most games in the history of the competition, 41.

The Soviet Union has the highest winning percentage of 82.5, followed by Team USA with 81.6 and Yugoslavia with 74.4.

FIBA World Cup records

  • Team with the most appearances: USA – 14
  • Game with the most overtimes: Angola vs. Germany 103-108 3OT (2006)
  • Highest scoring game: Brazil vs. China 154-97 (1978)
  • Lowest scoring game: Egypt vs. Brazil 19-38 (1950)
  • Biggest margin: Soviet Union vs. Central African Republic 140-48 (1974)
  • Oldest player to play at the FIBA World Cup: Eduardo Mingas, 40 years, 214 days (Angola, 2019)
  • Youngest player to play at the FIBA World Cup: Georges Lath, 16 years, 81 days (Ivory Coast, 1986)

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