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2023 FIBA World Cup: Welcoming debutants, remembering those who failed

Argentinian Facundo Campazzo was frustrated after their defeat vs. Dominican Republic which cost them their World Cup appearance. AFP

By Gil Moriones

MANILA—History to all, a nightmare to some. 

The 32 slots for this year's FIBA World Cup have all been filled.

We will witness newcomers as well as the absence of familiar names in the basketball world after the contrasting results of their campaign during the qualifiers. 

Compared to the 2019 edition in China, this World Cup will welcome four debutants from African and European confederations namely Cape Verde, Georgia, Latvia, and South Sudan where their impressive stance earned their spots on the biggest stage. 

South Sudan is in jubilation at their very first World Cup appearance. FIBA

However, the shocking failures of those that competed in 2019 will not be able to defend their pride this August. 

The last basketball WC runner-up Argentina led the banner of frustrations in their shocking turnout in the outcome of their Americas Qualifiers campaign after the Dominican Republic beat them in their last decider, 79-75. 

The Argentines led by their magician Facundo Campazzo got the nerve after being statistically tied with the Brazilians and battling for grabs as the best fourth-place team possessing both 8-4 records, but Brazil prevailed due to a large gap in point difference. 

Speaking of, this was the turning point for Georgia to qualify as a debutant although losing to Iceland, 80-77. 

Both teams held a 5-5 record, but for Iceland to qualify, they needed to win by four points or more against the Georgians, which they failed to do so in their decider. 

Georgia celebrates their World Cup qualification despite losing against Iceland. FIBA

Mexico is back on stage possessing an 8-4 record which is enough to cope with their absence in the last World Cup.

Nigeria, Tunisia, and Senegal will miss this tournament while Egypt flagged its comeback after its failure to qualify last two years. 

With South Korea's disqualification, Lebanon was impressive during the Qualifiers, and their star guard Wael Arakji created good deeds for the Cedars. 

Before their comeback to this stage 13 years in the making, Lebanon created their flamboyant finish the last year's FIBA Asia Cup placing runners-up near to beating the defending champions, Australia, who only manage to win by two points. 

Poland, Russia, and Turkey will miss this gathering but the emergence of European aces who play in the NBA had its factors during European qualifiers.

Finland was the first team to qualify in Europe after it finished the qualifiers with a 9-3 record including the contribution of Utah Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen with his large digits including his 22 points vs Sweden, 19 points vs. Croatia, 28 points vs. Israel, and 18 against Estonia. 

Slovenia had made an impact in these qualifiers and with the addition of the power within the Dallas Mavericks swingman Luka Doncic, who is confirmed to play this World Cup in Japan. 

The Slovenian side earned a 7-5 record which included their wins with Doncic who averaged 25 points per game during his appearance in the four matches of the European Qualifiers. 

Luka Doncic will play in the 2023 FIBA World Cup. FIBA

The Philippines ended their relaxing qualifiers with a bitter loss against Jordan, 91-90, at home after Scottie Thompson missed the two free throws that could have potentially won the game for them. 

Dar Tucker led Jordan in a wild one against Gilas. Kennelf Monteza

Japan formally ended this phase with wins vs. Iran and Bahrain at home. 

This World Cup will serve as a qualifying tournament for the men's basketball event in the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris, France. 

The Group Draw will happen on April 29 at Smart Araneta Coliseum and for commercial purposes, the USA will play in Manila, Slovenia in Japan, and Canada in Indonesia. 

Follow him on Twitter: @gilpuyatstation

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