The FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 has lived up to expectations and delivered in terms of drama, fan engagement, and players experience, according to FIBA Secretary General Andreas Zagklis.
“What a tournament we have had in Jakarta, Okinawa, and Manila,” Zagklis told a press conference on the final day of the 19th World Cup. “It was a tournament spread out for the first time over three countries; a tournament that also had to be prepared during Covid; a tournament that saw two great venues being constructed – in Jakarta and Okinawa, the renovation of Araneta Coliseum, the beautiful Mall of Asia Arena and the Philippines Arena that set the World Cup record of 38,115 spectators.”
The attendance for the World Cup is expected to break the 700,000 mark with Okinawa averaging 85 percent occupancy and games in Jakarta being more than 60 percent filled. The final numbers for the games in the Philippines will come after the final games.
Andreas Zagklis disclosed some broadcast market share figures as the Japan versus Cape Verde game was the most-watched program – not sports program but any program – in the country this year. There was more than 40 percent market share for Slovenia versus Canada, almost 35 percent market for South Sudan against Puerto Rico, and more than 25 percent market share for Lithuania versus Serbia.
The engagement on FIBA’s social media accounts was spectacular. Through the penultimate day, there were more than 10 billion impressions – double the amount from China 2019. The engagement was also doubled at 260 million. The 2023 World Cup three times tripled the video views.
“That is important because the images are what inspire the people and what makes the next generation want to grab a ball,” said FIBA Secretary General Andreas Zagklis, who added that within two and a half weeks, the FIBA social media accounts added 2 million new followers.
The 2023 World Cup also was a major step forward in the experience for the players. What started at China 2019, there was a dedicated program for the players from the 32 teams. All the players stayed in single rooms at the hotels.
There were dedicated player lounges with a former player in charge as the liaison between the players, the teams, and the organizing committees. Former players also served as advisers on how to build those players spaces, which included amenities ranging from their own dedicated bar to a barber shop in every players hotel.
Players Commission Chairman Dirk Nowitzki also visited the players hotels in Okinawa and Manila and provided feedback to FIBA about any adjustments to make during the tournament.
“Players who have played three, four, five World Cups said they have never experienced such conditions before,” Andreas Zagklis said. “We are very happy when our players are happy.”
The link between the World Cup and qualifying either directly or indirectly for the 2024 Olympics added extra drama, even further down the classification games.
“I really congratulated my team for the competition format. It was not only who wins the Naismith Trophy, it was not only who goes for the medals; it was not only who goes for the direct Olympic spot, it was then who gets the direct OQT spot.
“At the end of the day, the last game Philippines versus China was about the OQT spot because being 22nd or 29th makes a big difference. Same for New Zealand versus Egypt. They were playing a 17-32 last classification game and they were giving their all,” he said.
“I don’t think any other World Championship or World Cup in any other sport has at this late stage of the classification games so much interest and so much meaningful games.”
Andreas Zagklis also discussed next summer’s OQTs and clarified there are no rules that the four tournaments must be spread out among different continents. The hosts must be one of the 24 teams and the Central Board will make the decision.
“The rules do not require us to spread them around. In terms of policy, it would be good to spread them around to more than just one continent, if we have candidatures from several countries. But we need to see what kind of candidatures we get, what types of conditions. You see how important it is for us to have high-level conditions for our players,” Zagklis said,
FIBA Secretary General also clarified that no prize money will be handed out to countries for performance at the World Cup.
“There is no prize money for the World Cup. FIBA is supporting the federations in covering a lot of their costs. We have directly or indirectly contributed more than 80 million Swiss francs to the federations for their costs over the four years,” he said.
FIBA has one of the biggest insurance programs in sports – the same conditions for men and women players; and it also covers 3×3 and wheelchair basketball players. For the next cycle, FIBA has budgeted more than 15 million Swiss francs for just the FIBA players insurance.
FIBA also contributed 50 thousand Swiss francs to every federation for their preparation costs for the 2023 World Cup.
“That came off the back of the Spain World Cup (2014) when we started the road to China when we started to understand that the clubs – both NBA and FIBA clubs – have been upgrading the services for the players. So our federations in the preparations had really high costs,” he said.
The top 16 countries who stayed longer in the tournament received another 100 thousand to help cover the federation’s very high amount of expenses.
“The Central Board has decided there is no prize money for national team competitions. What we generate in terms of resources – as a non-profit organization – is distributed according to our development programs and other distribution mechanisms across all 212 members of FIBA,” Andreas Zagklis said.
Looking ahead to the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2027, FIBA Secretary General said fans should be excited that Qatar is hosting the event.
“Qatar is very committed, and I think it will be a dream for the fans. You know where to go. You can book your tickets and hotels. Yes, it’s going to be hot, but it’s going to be a tremendous basketball experience for those who love basketball. You will be able to see all the best players in the world in one city across four venues,” he said.
Andreas Zagklis also expressed FIBA’s condolences to the Dominican Republic basketball family as well as the loved ones of team physiotherapist Bladimir Regaldo, who died from a heart attack on the way back home from the World Cup. He also wished a speedy recovery to Serbian forward Borisa Simanic, who lost a kidney and needed emergency surgery midway through the tournament.