FIBA， basketballs international organizing body， is making an ambitious move that has been nearly a decade in the making as it aims for its signature event to one day rival soccers biggest prize.
It starts with the name. What was known for decades as the FIBA World Championships is now known as the FIBA World Cup. To kick it off， the first basketball World Cup is being held this August and September in China， which boasts the most basketball fans on the planet.
If youd forgotten about the existence of World Championships/World Cup， it might be because it hasnt taken place in five years. It was pushed back from its normal rotation in 2018 to this summer. This was primarily so it wouldnt be conducted in the same year as the FIFA World Cup， which it trailed every four summers dating to the 1960s.
In all honesty， FIBA has a long way to go here in trying to square this event with soccers festival every four years. Now FIBA has a new laborious and even mildly controversial qualification system that， like its bigger soccer brother， takes place throughout the calendar over the course of two years. To be more like the soccer event， it has expanded size of its field to create a larger and more diverse group of competitors， going from 24 countries to 32.
Over an 18-month span， 80 countries played 12 games in their regions to qualify. This was a change from the previous system where teams played in continental tournaments over the summer and top finishers advanced. Most of these qualifying games were played during the winter months and traditional basketball season， which often meant countries best players couldnt participate. Certainly no NBA players did.
This happens in soccer， the World Cup qualifiers take place during the league seasons over the course of two years. But the FIFA World Cup is so important and so traditional， that leagues around the world pause their schedules to allow the best players to return to play for their home countries.
That didnt happen in the NBA or any of the top European leagues. Thus USA Basketball had to scramble to field quality teams made up of League players and free agents.
The World Cup will be so highly thought of that the NBA will halt its schedule and the great American players of the day will fly off to Uruguay or Brazil for intense midseason qualification games. The same thing， in grand theory， would happen across Europe， Asia and Australia.
This is a regular occurrence in soccer， where Lionel Messi would make a game-winner for FC Barcelona one week and the next week score for Argentina to get it into the World Cup.
Right now， that image in the world basketball is just a dream. But FIBA is doing the dreaming and putting the mechanics in place to make it possible one day.
ambitious /?m'b???s/ adj.有野心的;有雄心的
Chris is so ambitious， so determined to do it all.
expand /?k'sp?nd/ v.扩大;使发展
We have to expand the size of the image.
intense /?n'tens/ adj.激烈的;嚴肃紧张的
So where does this doubt and intense emotional fear come from？