From 25 August to 10 September, sports fans will be thrilled by the most anticipated basketball competition of the year, the FIBA World Cup 2023. This time, it will take place in three Asian countries – the Philippines, Indonesia and Japan. For the first time in the tournament’s history, it will take place simultaneously in three countries and this will also be the first time that the Latvian men’s national team will take part. This success is made even sweeter by the fact that OlyBet Sports Bar is a long-standing supporter of the Latvian Basketball Association (LBA) and the national team, so experiencing such moments of joy together is exhilarating!
The World Cup will also include a battle for the right to compete in the 2024 Paris Olympic Games, because the places won are the main criterion for qualification. The question everyone’s asking is how can the Latvian national team qualify for the Olympics in order to once again rewrite the history books?
The format of the FIBA World Cup final tournament is as follows – 32 national teams from different FIBA competition regions have qualified for it: five from Africa (FIBA Africa), seven from the Americas (North and South America or FIBA Americas), eight from Asia (FIBA Asia), which also includes the countries in the Oceania region, as well as 12 from the European zone (FIBA Europe).
Teams are divided into eight sub-groups named A to H with four teams in each. The top two teams in each group qualify for the next round, i.e. the TOP 16, whereas the teams who did not qualify will fight for the 17th to 32nd place, taking part in the so-called consolation tournament. However, this is also significant in the context of the Olympic Games. How? We will explain in the final paragraphs.
Going back to the previous subject, in the TOP 16 phase the teams will again have to compete in a group tournament according to the same principle: four groups consisting of four teams in each. The top two teams qualify for the play-off round, but those that fail to qualify will fill the 9th to 16th places. In turn, the real battle for the ticket to the Olympics starts in the play-off.
Only 12 national teams will take in the Paris Olympic Games’ basketball tournament in which every continent must be represented. The following number of places has been allocated to each zone, based on the results of this World Cup final tournament:
• FIBA Asia – 1
• FIBA Americas – 2
• FIBA Oceania – 1*
• FIBA Africa – 1
• FIBA Europe – 2
*To qualify for the World Cup, Oceania national teams are added to the Asian teams in the qualification, whereas for the Olympics this region is guaranteed one individual place.
In other words, seven national teams from this World Cup will qualify directly for the Olympics, while four more will be identified via qualification tournaments. As the host country of the Olympics, France has already guaranteed its place. Why is this important to Latvia? Because Latvia must end the tournament as one of the two best European teams.
Example: Latvia finishes sixth with one European team ahead of it, while the other four represent other continents. If Latvia finishes third in the European team competition, and France finishes ahead of it, this means that it will have secured a ticket to the Olympics, because France’s place is already guaranteed.
If this scenario fails to come true, there is still a chance to win one of the four tickets through the qualifying tournaments.
24 teams will compete in them, divided into four separate tournaments. The division will be as follows: in each tournament there will be two groups of three teams, with the top two qualifying for the mini play-off tournament. The winning team that wins the play-off (it must win in two matches in a row) will also win the coveted ticket to Paris.
Does Latvia have the chance to reach the Olympics even if it fails to progress from its group in the World Cup?
The answer is – yes, but in this case it would first have to compete to make it to the Olympic qualification tournament. Latvia has been drawn in Group H together with France, Canada and Lebanon. If it finishes in the top two, in the next round it will face the two best teams from Group G consisting of Spain, Brazil, the Ivory Coast and Iran. You can see the full division of all eight groups here.
If Latvia fails to make it out of the group, it will have to play two games with the weakest teams in Group G, forming Group P. The maths are simple – the winners of this group will occupy 17th to 20th place, while the second place winners will be in 21st to 24th place, third place finishers will be in 25th to 28th place, while the teams at the bottom will be in 29th to 32nd place respectively. Since the teams have two more games to play after being eliminated from the battle for the play-off, the total number of points won and the ratio of points won and lost will be taken into account in the overall ranking.
Projecting the worst possible scenarios, if Latvia fails to make it into the TOP 16, then to get a place in one of the qualifying tournaments, it could certainly be enough to secure 17th place or a victory in the consolation tournament. It is safe to say that 21st to 24th place could also be enough to qualify. However, any position below that will leave Latvia on the edge. And if Latvia slips to 28th place or lower, it will also miss out on the qualification tournament.