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September 20, 2019

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US keeps top spot in world rankings

USA Basketball has kept its No. 1 spot in the FIBA world men’s rankings, even after a disappointing seventh-place showing at the World Cup that ended earlier this week in China.

It’s now nine-years-and-counting in the top spot for the United States, which has held the No. 1 ranking since winning the 2010 world championship. World Cup champion Spain stayed No. 2, Australia leaped eight spots to No. 3, World Cup finalist Argentina rose one spot to No. 4 and World Cup bronze-medalist France fell two slots to No. 5.

FIBA’s rankings take results from the most recent eight years into account — which means the US is still reaping point benefits from the 2012 and 2016 Olympic golds and the 2014 World Cup title.

“In this day and age, basketball in other countries is not a secret,” US coach Gregg Popovich said after the Americans completed their run at the World Cup. “So it’s not like there’s an epiphany or a revelation to be made. There are wonderful teams and wonderful coaches all over the world.”

It’s now expected that the US will retain the No. 1 ranking going into the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Several top National Basketball Association players, including Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Damian Lillard, have said in recent days that they intend to play for the US in Tokyo, where the Americans will try to win a fourth consecutive gold medal.

Most top US players declined to be part of the World Cup team.

“I’m expecting them to be strong next year,” Spain coach Sergio Scariolo said.

The new rankings confirmed that European champion Slovenia, which didn’t earn a spot in the World Cup field after many of its top players couldn’t take part in qualifying since those games conflicted with the NBA and Euroleague schedules, will still have a chance to compete in the Olympics — as will seven other teams that found out they’re headed to playoffs next year.

Angola, Senegal, Mexico, Uruguay, China, South Korea and Croatia also still have Olympic hopes. Those last eight playoff spots awarded yesterday went to the top two teams from Africa, Europe, Asia-Oceania and the Americas regions who hadn’t either already clinched Olympic berths in the last-chance playoffs.


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