FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019: The championships head to China
Philip Mak - August 01, 2019

FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019: The championships head to China

See the favourites, latest news and more
FIBA World Cup 2019

The 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup is just under a month away, hitting the courts in China from 31 August to 15 September.

The competition will bring together a record 32 men’s national teams from around the globe —including five from Africa, eight from Asia and Oceania, 12 from Europe and seven from the Americas— all competing to win the prized Naismith Trophy.

Held every four years and organised by the International Basketball Federation (FIBA), the competition was known as the FIBA World Championship between 1950 and 2010. This edition of the Basketball World Cup was rescheduled from 2018 to 2019 in order to no longer be in the same year as the FIFA World Cup. The tournament will also act as a qualifier for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

Making their first appearances this year are the national basketball teams from the Czech Republic and Montenegro — having previously competed as Czechoslovakia and Serbia and Montenegro, respectively. Poland is making its World Cup return after nearly 52 years, having not played in the tournament since 1967.

While these European teams may be in, it seems like more and more of Team USA is out. The Americans often have high hopes for the hoops at the FIBA Basketball World Cup, but this year many NBA players are benching themselves — less of a Dream Team and more of a nightmare for fans Stateside.

Want to learn more before you head to China? Keep scrolling to see everything you need to know before you go to the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup.

Fast facts

  • Host nation: China (8 venues)
  • Number of nations competing: 32
  • First edition: 1950
  • Prize: Naismith Trophy
  • Incumbent champions: United States
  • Most titles won: United States and Yugoslavia (5 each)

What is the Basketball World Cup schedule?

The 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup runs from 31 August to 15 September, with the 32 qualifying national teams being split up into eight groups of four. They will play the other three members of their group once and the top two teams will move on to the second stage, where there will be four teams of four.

Again, the teams will play each other once and the top two will advance to the knockout stage. To see the full daily schedule, click here.

What are the venues?

In 2015, FIBA announced China had beat out the Philippines to host the 2019 World Cup. Eight venues in as many cities across the nation will be used, ranging from Beijing in the north to Guangdong in the south.

FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 venues:

  • Wukesong Arena, Beijing — capacity: 18,000
  • Gymnasium of Youth Olympic Games Sport Park, Nanjing — capacity: 19,614
  • Shanghai Oriental Sports Center, Shanghai — capacity: 18,000
  • Wuhan Sports Center, Wuhan — capacity: 11,700
  • Foshan International Sports and Cultural Arena, Foshan — capacity: 14,700
  • Dongguan Basketball Center, Dongguan — capacity: 16,000
  • Guangzhou Gymnasium, Guangzhou — capacity: 11,609
  • Shenzhen Bay Sports Centre, Shenzhen — capacity: 12,381

Who is playing in the FIBA Basketball World Cup?

For the 2019 Basketball World Cup, the number of national teams at the group stage has been increased from 24 to 32 — spread across Africa, Asia and Oceania, Europe and America. Unfortunately, neither the UK nor Ireland made their shot this time, but the US and Brazil continued their respective streaks of having never missed a single tournament. Each team has a final roster of 12 players.


  • Angola
  • Ivory Coast
  • Nigeria
  • Senegal
  • Tunisia

Asia and Oceania

  • Australia
  • China
  • Iran
  • Japan
  • Jordan
  • New Zealand
  • Philippines
  • South Korea


  • Chile
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • Dominican Republic
  • Puerto Rico
  • United States
  • Venezuela


  • Czech Republic
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Italy
  • Lithuania
  • Montenegro
  • Poland
  • Russia
  • Serbia
  • Spain
  • Turkey

Who are the favourites to win?

According to Forbes, incumbent champions Team USA are still the favourites to win the 2019 Basketball World Cup despite the difficulties they are facing keeping NBA players on their roster. Their biggest threat currently is Serbia, followed by Spain.

Canada also sports more NBA players than any team other than the United States, making it a potential MVP if it can overcome its tough group, which includes Australia, Senegal and Lithuania. At this point, it’s a toss-up.

Are NBA players allowed to play in the Basketball World Cup?

Since 1994, NBA players participating in regular season games have been allowed on the courts of the FIBA Basketball World Cup — making it a fully professional-level tournament.

Why do so many Team USA players keep dropping out?

According to The Washington Post, the NBA stars who have either declined or pulled out of the FIBA World Cup thus far are: LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Kawhi Leonard, Russell Westbrook, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, DeMarcus Cousins, Blake Griffin, Paul George, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, Anthony Davis, James Harden, Bradley Beal, Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum, DeMar DeRozan, Eric Gordon and Tobias Harris.

Despite being coached by the legendary Gregg Popovich, the Post also shared the following theories as to why pro players are sitting the tournament out: it’s too close to the start of the NBA season; the risk of injury is too great (which is what happened to Paul George in 2014); and not winning the FIBA World Cup will not likely keep Team USA from playing in the 2020 Summer Olympics, making it rather inconsequential to their ultimate goals.

What is the 2019 Basketball World Cup theme tune?

Titled “Champion”, the official song for the 2019 tournament is performed by American singer Jason Derulo and features Chinese songstress Tia Ray.