Team USA men’s basketball moves up to No. 1 in world despite fourth-place finish at FIBA World Cup

In the latest edition of “who’d a thunk it,” the U.S. men’s basketball team is again ranked No. 1 in the world by FIBA, even though it lost three of its last four games at the World Cup and finished a disappointing fourth place.

FIBA said in a news release that the Americans climbed from No. 2 back to No. 1 “after benefitting from their consistency at major tournaments over the last three summers.”


Team USA won gold at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, granted. But then in 2022, at the FIBA AmeriCup — a tournament so “major” that the American team’s most notable players were Norris Cole and Patrick McCaw — the U.S. finished third.

And of course at the World Cup, which was completed Sunday in Manila, Philippines, the Americans — with 12 NBA players and three current All-Stars — won their first four before losing to Lithuania, Germany (in the semifinals) and Canada in overtime with the bronze medal on the line.



Why Team USA not winning the FIBA World Cup was not a total loss

Spain, the former No. 1 team and 2019 World Cup champion, didn’t make it to the medal round this summer, and fell one spot to number two. Germany, which won the World Cup for the first time, shot up from 11th to third for its highest ranking ever.

The Serbians, runner-up at the World Cup, climbed from sixth to fifth, and the Canadians advanced from 15th to sixth. Latvia, which reached the quarterfinals, soared from 30th to eighth.

Counting friendlies, the U.S. picked up wins over Spain, Germany, No. 11 Slovenia (without Luka Dončić, who sat for precautionary reasons), No. 13 Italy, No. 14 Greece, No. 16 Puerto Rico, and No. 17 Montenegro.

The next big tournament — by our standards, if not necessarily FIBA’s — is the Paris Olympics next summer. The Americans, a four-time defending gold medalist, have already qualified and are expected to send a roster with star power unseen since 2016, if not 2012.



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FIBA world rankings

(Previous ranking in parentheses)

  1. United States (2)
  2. Spain (1)
  3. Germany (11)
  4. Australia (3)
  5. Serbia (6)
  6. Canada (15)
  7. Argentina (4)
  8. Latvia (30)
  9. France (5)
  10. Lithuania (8)

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(Photo of Mikal Bridges: Ezra Acayan / Getty Images)

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