FIBA World Cup

USA upset proves globalization of basketball, say ex-NBA stars Gasol, Melo, Scola 

Beatrice Go

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USA upset proves globalization of basketball, say ex-NBA stars Gasol, Melo, Scola 

LEGENDS. FIBA ambassadors and former NBA players (from left) Luis Scola, Pau Gasol, and Carmelo Anthony share their thoughts on the World Cup.


Pau Gasol, Carmelo Anthony, and Luis Scola credit the improved global competitiveness of the game as the FIBA World Cup closes with a surprise finale between Germany and Serbia 

MANILA, Philippines – Not even 2023 FIBA World Cup global ambassadors Carmelo Anthony, Pau Gasol and Luis Scola expected Serbia and Germany to face each other in this tournament’s final, but all of them praised the hard work and success of these two dark horses. 

“It is what it is. Guys are getting better, the game is growing globally. At the end of the day, everybody has an opportunity now to go out there and win a gold medal,” said former USA Basketball mainstay Anthony. 

Fans were excited for an NBA star-studded North America matchup when Canada made history with its first World Cup semifinal appearance. 

However, the Canadians – who grittily made it out of the group stage with big wins over powerhouse France and defending champion Spain – fell short against Serbia, 95-86

With five World Cup titles under its belt and fresh from a golden Tokyo 2020 Olympics performance, world No. 2 USA was expected to redeem its standing in FIBA. Instead, USA became world No. 11 Germany’s latest victim in its undefeated 2023 World Cup campaign with a 113-111 victory. 

“It is an upset. Let’s be quite frank, let’s not sugarcoat it. Because we have that gold standard, and anything other than that is an upset,” said Anthony. 

“Serbia and Germany had a good game. Let’s let everybody know that the rest of the world is here to play.” 

But Spanish basketball star Gasol argued that European basketball has long been on the map of the sport. 

Serbia has won two golds and one silver in the World Cup, while Germany has been working on its basketball program for 20 years, which has produced stars like Dirk Nowitzki and Dennis Schröder. 

Compared to the North American strategy of putting up a team together weeks before the competition, the players of Serbia and Germany have been committed to train together during the off-season in order to develop chemistry and unity. 

“The unity and team play overcome the individual talent of teams,” said Gasol. 

“I think we’re seeing something like this again today. The individual talent helps, but it’s about seeing a team believing, fighting, communicating, defending every single play, fighting for every ball, getting excited and pouring it out for each other. That’s valuable.” 

With more teams making it big in the highest stage of basketball, Luis Scola hopes that the sport will be further developed in the different parts of the world  that will make the game more exciting for the next generation. 

“It’s about globalization – what FIBA is doing, what the NBA is doing –  bringing the game to different places and more places,” said Argentine great Scola. 

“We’re here in Asia quite often, Africa is a great point of emphasis, we got a great story on South Sudan. I think that’s what the game is all about”

On Sunday, September 10 at the Mall of Asia Arena, USA and Canada will battle for the bronze at 4:30 pm, while Serbia and Germany headline the day’s games in the gold medal match at 8:40 pm. – 

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Beatrice Go

More commonly known as Bee, Beatrice Go is a multimedia sports reporter for Rappler, who covers Philippine sports governance, national teams, football, and the UAAP. Stay tuned for her news and features on Philippine sports and videos like the Rappler Athlete’s Corner and Rappler Sports Timeout.