USA Keeps No. 1 Overall FIBA Ranking Despite 7th-Place Finish at World Cup

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistSeptember 19, 2019

United States' Kemba Walker pulls on his jersey during a consolation playoff game against Serbia for the FIBA Basketball World Cup in Dongguan in southern China's Guangdong province on Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019. The U.S. will leave the World Cup with its worst finish ever in a major international tournament, assured of finishing no better than seventh after falling to Serbia 94-89 in a consolation playoff game on Thursday night. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
Ng Han Guan/Associated Press

Despite finishing seventh at the 2019 FIBA World Cup, the United States maintained its No. 1 position in the FIBA world men's rankings.

Team USA has held the top spot for nine consecutive years since winning the 2010 world championship. Spain, Australia, Argentina and France follow Team USA in the rankings.

The Americans fell 89-79 to France in the World Cup quarterfinals, ending a 58-game international winning streak in non-exhibition games involving NBA players. Then, Team USA lost 94-89 to Serbia, marking the first time the U.S. lost consecutive games with NBA players since 2002.

Since the FIBA rankings take the past eight years into account, however, the U.S. is still the top team by virtue of winning Olympic gold in 2012 and 2016, and the World Cup in 2014.

Several top players pulled themselves from consideration for the 2019 squad, including Houston Rockets guard James Harden, Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard, Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal and Los Angeles Lakers big Anthony Davis.

That left Kemba Walker, Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez as the only players on the roster who had ever been named All-Stars. Head coach Gregg Popovich was also woefully short in bigs aside from Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner.

However, the U.S. has already received big-time commitments for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo as the Americans looks to win gold at the Summer Games for the fourth consecutive time.

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry and Lillard have both said they intend to play. Injuries and other factors could change that, but it represents a good start in what should be a competitive tournament.

Spain won the 2019 FIBA World Cup, Argentina reached the final, France and Serbia beat Team USA in the tournament, and Australia beat the Americans in an exhibition game.

Given the poor performance in China, there will be a ton of pressure on Team USA in Tokyo to prove the FIBA World Cup slip-up was merely a fluke.

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