The latest FIBA rankings have come out, and Spain men’s basketball finds themselves in the top slot. For the first time in two decades, the United States isn’t ranked number one in the world.
This is a huge accomplishment for Spain men’s basketball, as they have never ranked this high before in history. Looking back at the past few Olympics, they have been one of the few countries who have come close to taking down Team USA.
The United States landed in the second spot of FIBA’s rankings. Rounding out the rest of the top five is Australia, Argentina, and France. Other notable names near the top include Serbia, Slovenia, and Greece.
Even though they didn’t medal in the 2020 games, Spain men’s basketball has had great success in the past decade. They landed a bronze medal in 2016, and before that won silver in 2012 and 2008. It’s also worth noting that Spain is fresh off a gold medal victory in EuroBasket, which took place this summer.
Like most international teams now, Team Spain is littered with NBA talent. Some of the notable names on their roster include Ricky Rubio, Juan and Willy Hernangomez, Serge Ibaka, and Nikola Mirotic. Before this generation, Pau and Marc Gasol led for Spain men’s basketball.
Spain men’s basketball sending strong message to the United States
These updated rankings have shocked many, and rightfully so. Seeing that a new team has claimed the top spot has sent a clear message to the United States.
For most of history, Team USA has dominated international play. However, with the NBA becoming a global game, other countries have caught up. More importantly, what was once a wide competitive gap is no more.
Looking at the league right now, most of the top players are foreign-born. Nikola Jokic and Giannis Antetokounmpo have taken home the last four MVPs, and Luka Doncic is a front-runner to win this season.
Seeing that they are no longer the clear favorite in basketball, it will be interesting to see how USA men’s basketball responds in the upcoming Olympics. NBA stars have been known to decline the invitation to rest in the offseason, but this demotion could light a competitive fire.
At the end of the day, things like this are great for the game of basketball. The sport has truly really around the world, and allowed talent to emerge in places nobody would have thought in the past.