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A mere mention of the term 'World Cup' this year will invoke, for the most part, feverish debate about the upcoming footballing fiesta in Brazil, from England’s chances to the genius of the host nation. However, when the curtain closes on the showpiece event in July, sporting fans the world over needn’t despair – it is but a short wait until basketball’s very own equivalent gets under way. Understandably, you won’t see quite as much anticipation, such is the sport’s general lack of prominence outside of the United States. But with an ever increasing global fan base, the event promises to be every bit as exhilarating.
Like its footballing counterpart, the FIBA World Cup takes place every four years, towards the end of August and start of September. This time around sees Spain take on hosting duties for the first time since 1986, and a rampant USA team determined to retain the title they claimed in Turkey back in 2010.
2014 Basketball World Cup: a guide to the event
2014 Basketball World Cup: history
The inaugural tournament was held in Argentina in 1950; on that occasion, the hosts walked away with the gold medal, having overcome the USA in the final. Originally conceived in a similar player format to the Olympics (indeed the concept first stemmed from a conversation at the 1948 event in London), it wasn’t until 1994 that NBA stars were permitted to lend their ample talents to their country’s cause. Somewhat surprisingly, Yugoslavia hold the record for the most titles with five – but the USA are steadily closing in on the claim.
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2014 Basketball World Cup: setting
The popularity of basketball is steadily growing in Spain, perhaps more so than anywhere else in the world, so it seems fitting they should be given the opportunity to host such a prestigious event. Five host cities can consider themselves privileged to play host to the action, namely Bilbao, Barcelona, Madrid, Seville and Granada. For the duration of the group stages, Gran Canaria also muscles into proceedings, with the Group D teams battling it out in Las Palmas.
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2014 Basketball World Cup: schedule
For the first time in the event’s history, the sensible decision has been made not to clash with the FIFA World Cup; proceedings will begin on Saturday 30 August. Pleasingly for fans – although possibly not for the players themselves – the nations are in action every day, ensuring an action-packed two weeks until the final showdown on Sunday 14 September. Each group will play their initial matches in the same city, with Madrid and Barcelona taking centre stage from the knockout phases onwards. The capital is understandably given the lion’s share, including the honour of hosting the final itself.
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2014 Basketball World Cup: ticketing
With so many games scattered across the country, the ticketing system can be a tad difficult to wrap your head around. As you may expect, the prices are tiered depending on the scale of the event in question. The lowest cost to follow one particular team throughout the preliminary rounds is 135 euros, with a further 338 euros required to watch them in the final stages. If you plan to base yourself in one particular city, you can always purchase a venue pass instead, ranging from 103 to 660 euros depending on the volume of games and quality of seats you choose.
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2014 Basketball World Cup: Spain
One of the great joys of any such tournament is the opportunity to take in the nation on a larger scale; in Spain, scarcely a more agreeable host could have been selected. The attractions of thriving urban centres Barcelona and Madrid are widely lauded, but the other cities would not have been chosen if they were without merit away from the court. The northern territory of Bilbao is, of course, home to the world famous architectural marvel that is the Guggenheim Museum, while you can find the stunning Alhambra in Granada.
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Image 2 © Robert Siresio
Image 3 © Tata Aka
Image 4 © Jose Maria Silveira Neto
2014 Basketball World Cup Accommodation