NBA / Jun 11, 2010 / 9:30 am

World Cup vs. FIBA World Championship National Teams

With the World Cup now upon us, and the FIBA World Basketball Championship right around the corner this summer, I decided to compare the national soccer and basketball teams of some of the planet’s powerhouses: Brazil, Germany, France, Argentina, Spain, England/Great Britain and the USA. How does each country’s team stack up in terms of recent success, individual stars, and world ranking?

Brazil's Leandro Barbosa

BRAZIL
In Brazil, soccer is a way of life. Legends like Pele and Ronaldo led the national team to greatness over the years, and they’re known for playing “the beautiful game” — a flashy, individual-oriented system. This year, however, Brazil is shifting from the beautiful game to a more fundamentally-based system, evidenced by the fact that Ronaldinho is off the roster. Basketball has just started to take hold in Brazil but is gaining popularity as more Brazilians make the NBA.

Basketball
- World Ranking: 14th
- Stars: Anderson Varejao, Nene, Leandro Barbosa
- Recently: Missed ’08 Olympics, won ’09 FIBA Americas Olympic qualifier

Soccer
- World Ranking: 1st
- Stars: Kaka, Robinho, Luis Fabiano
- Recently: Advanced to the round of eight in ’06 World Cup

Team USA's Landon Donovan

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
The USA is the one country on this list where soccer isn’t the biggest sport in the nation. Soccer has yet to gain the traction and following that it has everywhere else across the globe, while basketball is much bigger. Since NBA players have been allowed to play in international tournaments, USA Basketball has been expected to win everywhere it goes, and for the most part, they’ve come through.

Basketball
- World Ranking: 2nd
- Stars: Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwight Howard
- Recently: Won gold medal at ’08 Olympics

Soccer
- World Ranking: 14th
- Stars: Landon Donovan, Tim Howard, Jozy Altidore
Recently: Finished last in Group E in ’06 World Cup, going winless in the tournament

Spain's Pau Gasol

SPAIN
While soccer reigns supreme in Spain, basketball is closing in on its heels. With the recent stardom of the Gasol brothers in the NBA and other Spaniards making the jump, basketball has taken off, but still pales in comparison to soccer; especially considering the madness that ensues when Real Madrid and FC Barcelona are in action.

Basketball
- World Ranking: 3rd
- Stars: Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol, Juan Carlos Navarro
- Recently: Silver medal at ’08 Olympics

Soccer
- World Ranking: 2nd
- Stars: Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Fernando Torres
- Recently: Advanced out of group play in ’06 World Cup before being eliminated in the round of 16 by France.

England's Wayne Rooney

GREAT BRITAIN/ENGLAND
England is home to the most famous sports team in the world, Manchester United. Soccer is a birthright in this nation, and England’s national team is followed religiously. Despite high expectations every World Cup, England has a tendency to come up short and disappoint their fans. Basketball is not too popular in GB, partially because the national team hasn’t had much success, and the stars on the national team aren’t homegrown talent.

Basketball
- World Ranking: 58th
- Stars: Luol Deng, Ben Gordon
- Recently: Didn’t qualify for ’08 Olympics, automatically granted a spot in the 2012 Olympics as host nation.

Soccer
- World Ranking: 8th
- Stars: Wayne Rooney, Peter Crouch, Joe Cole
- Recently: Lost in penalty kicks to Portugal in the round of eight in ’06 World Cup.

Argentina's Luis Scola

ARGENTINA
Argentina is the rare nation that finds almost equal success on the pitch and on the court. Argentinean soccer has been wildly successful and popular over the years, led by superstar Diego Maradona, who now coaches the national team. Recently Argentina basketball has emerged on the scene with their gold medal performance in the 2004 Olympics, which has created enthusiasm for the sport never before seen in Argentina.

Basketball
- World Ranking: 1st
- Stars: Luis Scola, Manu Ginobili, Carlos Delfino
- Recently: Bronze medal at ’08 Olympics

Soccer
- World Ranking: 7th
- Stars: Lionel Messi, Carlos Tevez, Maxi Rodriguez
- Recently: Lost in penalty kicks in the round of eight to Germany in ’06 World Cup.

France's Thierry Henry

FRANCE
France is home to one of the biggest stars in the game in Thierry Henry and came so close to winning the 2006 World Cup. While stars like Boris Diaw and Tony Parker have entered the NBA in recent years, basketball in France still isn’t very popular. The national team failed to qualify for the 2008 Olympics, which took away some momentum from the fact that more French players are making the jump to the NBA.

Basketball
- World Ranking: 15th
- Stars: Mickael Pietrus, Tony Parker, Boris Diaw
- Recently: Failed to qualify for ’08 Olympics

Soccer
- World Ranking: 9th
- Stars: Thierry Henry, Franck Riberry, Eric Abidal
- Recently: Lost in ’06 World Cup final to Italy

Germany's Dirk Nowitzki

GERMANY
German soccer peaked in 2006 when the nation hosted the World Cup, and the national team finished third. It’s hard to replicate such success, and excitement as resulted from hosting their first World Cup in a united Germany. (The 1974 World Cup was held in West Germany.) Basketball is seeing some success both professionally with certain players making the NBA, and on the international level, but the quality and popularity of the basketball team is a long way away from matching the soccer squad.

Basketball
- World Ranking: 7th
- Stars: Dirk Nowitzki, Chris Kaman
- Recently: Finished 10th in the ’08 Olympics

Soccer
- World Ranking: 6th
- Stars: Miroslav Klose, Arne Friedrich, Lukas Podolski
- Recently: Finished third in ’06 World Cup held in Germany.

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  • Sweet Enlglish

    AAAGGHHHH!

    Everytime you wrote England/Great Britain, it made me die a little inside.

    How come you didn’t do a write up on the Canada/North America team?

    FOR THE FINAL TIME, DIME.

    ENGLAND AND GREAT BRITAIN ARE NOT THE SAME THING.

    GREAT BRITAIN = ENGLAND, SCOTLAND, WALES AND IRELAND. FOUR COMPLETELY INDEPENDANT AND SEPERATE NATIONS, ALL OF WHOM HAVE THERE OWN FOOTBALL/BASKETBALL TEAMS.

    please….. stop it….

  • Trey bing bay

    Ahh it’s good to be English :/

  • sh!tfaced

    Ugh. Sucks NOT to be soccer fan…

  • Kevin

    why is the USA not ranked # 1 in the world basketball rankings? Argentina #1?

  • Daniel Marks

    @Kevin

    Not sure why they aren’t here are the current Fiba rankings: http://www.fiba.com/pages/eng/fc/even/rank/rankMen.asp

    @Sweet English

    We put Great Britain/England because England doesnt have a separate team for basketball so the closest thing to an English basketball team is the one that goes under the name Great Britain

  • Germany

    with every post about the word cup it becomes clear that you guys know nothing about soccer :-D

    arne friedrich star of the german soccer team? its not sure that he will even be playing

  • http://www.myspace.com/carlifrancis5 quest???

    @ daniel and Kevin, the reason why Argentina is ranked number one in the world is because the rankings are based on a point system. I think that it is every four years that they update it greatly. This means that over a span of four years all of the tournaments that they have played on and their success on those tournaments dictate their points, thus explaining their number one ranking. Remember they won the 2004 olympics and they have won/ been in the top 3 at most of the major tournaments. Also I would like to point out THAT A LITTLE TINY ISLAND BY THE NAME OF PUERTO RICO RANKS 11 BITCHESSSS…A SMALL LITTLE ISLAND IS BETTER THAN BIG COUNTRIES LIKE BRAZIL,FRANCE,RUSSIA,AND AUSTRALIA!!!

  • Steve

    This is a message to “Sweet English” – YOU ARE AN IDIOT. Ireland is not part of Great Britain, get your facts right before you moan at someone else

    Great Britain = ENGLAND, SCOTLAND, WALES
    United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland = ENGLAND, SCOTLAND, WALES, NORTHERN IRELAND

    And its obvious isnt it? He’s comparing the GB basketball team to the England football team, which is why it says GREAT BRITAIN / ENGLAND

  • Steve

    I see from your last paragraph “Sweet English” that you also blissfully unaware of the fact that there is a Great Britain Basketball team

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Britain_basketball_team

    Please try to represent our country a bit better next time? Not all of us are idiots like you

  • shiptar

    @Germany: I’m feelin you. Most of the team’s stars are funny.
    @Dime: please stop posting articles about soccer and stick to the basketball..

  • M Intellect

    Daniel – FYI Eric Abidal is shit.

  • http://lowereyelid-blepharoplasty.com Hans

    Nebraska can’t stand the heat (Texas) so they are getting out of the ktichen. Too bad Ohio State, Michigan, and Iowa will also beat them. I wonder where the Cornhuskers will go next in search of the elusive championship season.

  • ecco

    germany PEAKED at the 2006 cup with a 3rd place?

    1954 – #1
    1966 – #2
    1970 – #3
    1974 – #1
    1982 – #2
    1986 – #2
    1990 – #1
    2002 – #2
    2006 – #3

    keep in mind the world cup is all 4 years only, so saying germany FUCKING PEAKED with a 3 place in 2006 is like saying phil jackson peaked when he got into the western conference finals this year. cmon guys you cant be serious
    ( lol arne friederich by the way, he is the leader of the team with the SECOND WORST SEASON in german football history this year so yea he is rly a big star here )

  • http://thewebpages101.com Suns Fan

    Anyone else feel a little slighted with a 1-1 tie after all that buildup?

  • http://www.hypebball.com Sam Raphael Chadwick

    Sweet English, the GB team was made so that they could play in the London Olympics in 2012, there is an England team however they dont really play any majoy tournaments and are mainly only used as a develpoment squad before players go to the GB squad. Hope that info can be a little helpful lol.

  • http://lowereyelid-blepharoplasty.com Kimbra

    The Big 12 has 10 schools, the Big 10 has 12 – Perfect, I had a hard enough time explaining to my girlfriend why it made sense the Big 10 had 11 schools.

  • b

    what, no love for down under? australia certianly has a better bball team than great britian… and our football team aint bad, remove that (putiful)loss against germany and you’ll see our international record isn’t that bad. we did beat a 2nd string brazil side in confederations cup a few years back, but even a 2nd string brazil side is better than most 1st string sides period.

  • http://ez-general.com Facefurny

    Someone please stop the horns! I tried to give the World Cup a chance, but I’d even turn off the Superbowl if there was the same annoying background noise.

  • http://hungovertees.com Lamont

    The Vuvuzela, just when you though kazoos were the most annoying “musical instruments”

  • http://www.squidoo.com/pregnancy-massage Reid Bonifer

    I can’t wait to watch game 7. Kobe has been a monster! Go Lakers!

  • http://noticiasfutbolargentino.blogspot.com/ Mireya Waldroff

    Holis. Me encantaría saber como va a desenvolverse este mundial ya que se esta viendo a algunos equipos que estan jugando muy bien, ustedes que piensan ?

  • http://www.buyhoodiaweightlosspills.com Brock Prat

    Madrid surely be ruling all other Clubs in the next season

  • http://www.thebigcigars.com Roninman

    I never would have guessed USA would end up leading group C