Last week, we had a look at how the FIBA World cup came about and what took place at the maiden Basketball World Cup which was held in Argentina in the year 1950. Today, let’s take a look at what’s next down memory lane:  the second and third world championships.

1954 FIBA World cup- Brazil

The second Basketball World cup was held in the year 1954 from the 23rd of October to the 5th of November in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. This time around FIBA had decided that it was going to increase the number of teams to 12 which meant there were 2 additional slots available compared to the competition in 1950. Being the 1952 Basketball champions of the Olympic Games held at Finland, the USA qualified automatically. The tournament also consisted of 5 South American teams including the hosts Brazil, 3 European teams, Canada and 2 teams from Asia.

The tournament format was such that there were 4 groups with 3 teams each playing a Round robin. The top 2 teams from a group would qualify to the Final round which was played in a league format.

The 12 man team that Philippines put together for the 1954 Basketball World Cup is considered to be one of the strongest ever assembled by the country for an international event. The average height of this team was 6 feet which was quite a big deal, given the small stature of Filipino Basketball players. The team was a young team too with an average age of only 23 years.

Now here’s something some people might be not aware of. One of the biggest reasons for Philippine’s success at the 1954 World cup was their coach. Herminio ‘Herr’ Silva had a reputation of being a master strategist at drawing up plays as it was evident at the Asian Championships. However he was having health issues by that time and was diagnosed to be very ill. He kept his pain and agony to himself and put his country’s need before his. He was an authoritative and ambitious figure who insisted that he be given sole authority to pick the 12 man squad to represent the country. He picked the same team that won the Asian championships a few months previously, except for one change.

The Filipinos started their campaign by defeating Paraguay in the opening game 65-52 in spite of having trailed at half time. However they suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of the very strong hosts- Brazil. Thankfully for them Brazil defeated Paraguay too thereby giving Philippines the opportunity to advance to the final round.

The Asians suffered yet another setback in the very first match of the Final round at the hands of the bigger and more experienced Americans. The Filipinos bounced right back in the next game beating Israel 90-55. In spite of losing again to Brazil they went on to seal the next three games in convincing style. A somewhat unexpected moment highlighted in History books from the 1954 FIBA World cup happened during  the Philippine’s victory over France, where Mumar spat on the face of the 6 foot 9 French Center Beugnot.  Mumar admitted to it later on and that he converted the crucial uncontested layup when the Frenchman was rubbing his eyes.

In their final appearance of the World cup they beat Uruguay 67-63 thereby winning a $10,000 cheque and also creating history by becoming Bronze medallists, a feat many pundits would have deemed to be an impossibility a few years back.

As Sri Lankans we could learn a lot from the Philippines’ Basketball model just like we could learn from the Spanish model as discussed a few weeks before. They have the same size issues as us, but have managed to overcome that by developing the skill level of players and an unparalleled love and passion for the game.

Hosts Brazil and USA contested at the Finals which turned out be a one-sided affair. USA led Brazil 35 points to 19 at the half and continued their dominance over the South Americans in the 2nd half beating them 62-41 with Edwards top scoring for the Americans with 14 points.

Final rounds results

USA7 Wins o Losses
Brazil6 Wins 1 Loss
Philippines5 Wins 2 Losses
France        3 Wins 4 Losses
Formosa2 Wins 5 Losses
Uruguay2 Wins 5 Losses
Canada2 Wins 4 Losses
Israel1 Win 6 Losses

1959 Basketball World cup

The 3rd edition of the Basketball World championship was held in yet another South American country: Chile. Antofagasta, Concepcion, Temusco, Valpraiso were the cities where the matches were held with the final stages being held at Santiago. FIBA added one additional slot from the previous World cup to bring the total number of teams to 13. USA once again being the 1954 Olympic Basketball champions qualified automatically along with Brazil, Uruguay, Soviet Union, Bulgaria, Argentina, Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Formosa, Philippines, the hosts Chile and UAR which was what Egypt was called for a brief while.

This time there were 3 groups of 4 teams each with hosts Chile getting the bye. The top 2 teams from each group advanced to the final round which had 7 teams (Chile got the bye remember), which was played in a league format.

The 1959 FIBA World cup had no shortage of drama. Midway through the final rounds, the Soviet Union and Bulgaria withdrew from the tournament as a way of political protest against the Nationalist Chinese government of Taiwan, which was at war with Mainland China which followed a similar Communist policy! Guess it wouldn’t be the 1st instance where Politics got in the way of Sports!

The most important match was Brazil vs USA which was the unofficial final of this tournament as there was no Final match at this World cup, because it had a league format. Brazil beat USA 81-67 with Wlamir top scoring with 26 points. Many critiques say that one reason USA lost this match was because USA took the Air Force Basketball team of the country instead of choosing their best 12 men for the championships.

Something notable that happened in the 1959 World cup was the organizers moving the Basketball venue for the final stages to the Estadio Nacional de Chile since the Metropolitan Indoor stadium where it was originally supposed to be held at was still under construction. The games were witnessed by up to 16,000 at the stadium.

Final round ranking

Brazil 5 wins 1 Loss
USA 4 Wins 2 Losses
Chile 2 Wins 4 Losses (86-85)
Formosa 2 Wins 4 Losses (85-86)
Puerto Rico 1 Win 5 Losses
Soviet union Withdrawn
Bulgaria Withdrawn
Join us next week on as we explore events and happenings in the World of Basketball. Till then keep balling!