FIBA’s new format for qualifying in the major global basketball tournaments was met with criticism, particularly with the schedule overlapping with that of the biggest leagues in the world like the NBA.
With such overlap, Fiba’s qualifiers would be robbed of some of the sport’s biggest names. But Fiba insists the changes done by the world basketball governing body to the competition structure and calendar brings more benefits than one would think, especially for the welfare of the players.
The new home-and-away format brings the game to more parts of the world at less cost than hosting an entire tournament in one place, which only helps the sport achieve its full potential and grow its popularity worldwide.
But aside from that, the new Fiba format also benefits the players more in reducing their workload. It’s only natural to protect the world’s top basketball talents that fill arenas, pull audiences on screen, generate revenues and inspire young cagers to reach for their dreams.
Here are five ways on how the new Fiba competition structure is great for basketball, for the players and fans alike.
Access to intense basketball action
The home-and-away format brings the best basketball teams around to world closer to fans all over the globe. And with teams battling for their country's pride, the players will surely go all out for an action-packed, entertaining game, to the benefit of the fans of the host country
For the first time, NBA players can look forward to a full summer off every four years with no national team competitions to play in. Additionally, they will have at least a full month off in the years of the Fiba Basketball World Cup and Continental Cups. Other international leagues with different offseasons, like the PBA, can also adjust their schedules to make use of the scheduled breaks and windows in the new Fiba format.
Reduced preparation time
On average, the workload of players will be reduced by 26 percent under the new Fiba schedule for qualifiers to major tournaments, especially since teams will put in less preparation time for the qualifying games.
Preparation time is now limited to 28 days (4 weeks) before any major event (FIBA Basketball World Cup, Olympic Games and Continental Championships). It was previously 5 weeks.
In qualifying competition, the November (2017-2018), February (2017-2018) and June (2018) windows will see players join their national team for only two days of practice before the games.
Only the September 2018 window, coming after a holiday period for the players, will have a maximum of 14 preparation days.
Fewer games, fewer injuries
The new qualifying format allows for a change of roster in each window, so the workload will be shared among a higher number of players.
And as games will be played in windows throughout the year, more players will have a chance to play for their national team. That means more opportunities for players to develop their talents and career paths.
More players, less preparation time, and a full break gives the players better chances at reducing the risk of injury, which has been a major concern for Fiba, international leagues, team owners and players alike.
Better player development
The possible absence of top NBA players is a downer but it has some advantages. New opportunities for young players from more countries to play at the international level will enable those from less prominent basketball nations to develop their skills and talent. The more games played against good opposition, the more playing standards will improve.
The absence of NBA players during two of the windows will present opportunities for other talented players to shine for their national teams and as a result develop a whole new generation of basketball stars.