GENEVA (FIBA) - There has been positive reaction to the new format and calendar of competition announced by FIBA at its Central Board meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, over the weekend.
Many of the changes are related to the FIBA Basketball World Cup, which is to increase from 24 to 32 teams starting in 2019.
The qualification period for FIBA's flagship event will be held over the course of two years and consist of six windows - November (2017); February, June, September, November (2018); and February (2019).
Under the new format, fans from some 140 countries will be able to enjoy regular national team games throughout the year during the qualification period to the FIBA Basketball World Cup. These games will be part of an estimated 1,200 international top level contests to be played over a four-year cycle.
A leading international coach in the men’s game, Vincent Collet of France, weighed in with his opinion on the changes.
"It’s a complete overhaul in the sense that FIBA is finally taking into account the incredible rhythm that’s put on these players," he said.
"It will allow the participation of the very best players at international competitions. Overall it’s a good thing."
Collet, who was speaking to French sports daily L’Equipe, added: “You have to make sure that you don’t reach the point where you have too many competitions like in handball where you have some every year.”
One of the changes affects the continental championships, which will be held every four years instead of two, beginning in 2017.
"Having a EuroBasket every four years will also take the pressure off of some players and allow them to position themselves more closely to their teams," Collet said.
Ingo Weiss, the President of the German Basketball Federation, also endorsed the changes.
"After very good and constructive discussions, we made some strategically important decisions for basketball," he said.
"With the changes, the FIBA Basketball World Cup will increase in importance as an event. That is an important step to position our sport – also compared to other sports."
Across the Atlantic Ocean, FIBA Americas Secretary General Alberto Garcia was optimistic that smaller basketball nations would benefit from hosting big games.
"It is a more complex process but it allows more participation and local games to federations that right now are not strong," he said in a phone interview with Primera Hora.
"It will allow us to increase the sport at the level of America in places like Barbados and the Lesser Antilles.
"The same will happen in Europe, Asia and Africa.
"This will get federations to make an effort to search in depth of talents, using prospect players in the first round of qualifying and keeping their stars for their final phases."
Combined Asia-Pacific region
At the Central Board, FIBA also announced that Asia and Oceania will play in a combined Asia-Pacific region to qualify for the FIBA Basketball World Cup, but universality will remain in place for the qualifying process to the Olympic Games.
The decision was well received by the Philippines.
Sonny Barios, the Executive Director of the Philippines Basketball Association (SBP), welcomed the move, one which will come into effect for the 2019 staging of the leading international men's basketball tournament, when the field will consist of 32 teams for the first time.
“We were part of discussions in Geneva in November 2011 and March 2012,” Barrios told the BusinessMirror on Monday.
“We supported the idea with the understanding that it will effectively result to more slots for Asia and that means a better chance for the Philippines to qualify.”