The United States is by far the most successful team at international basketball tournaments. But which country has been the second best? A rubric was developed to determine which men’s teams have been the most historically successful. The points rubric awards progressively more points the further a national team went in the knock-out rounds of both the Summer Olympics and the FIBA Basketball World Cup. The analysis starts from 1992, the first Olympics NBA players were allowed to compete at international tournaments.
16 pts – Champions
8 pts – Second Place
4 pts – Reached Semi-Finals
2 pts – Reached Quarter-Finals
1 pt – Reached Round of 16
TOP 5 MOST SUCCESSFUL NATIONS IN BASKETBALL
1. United States – 74 pts.
Basketball originated in the United States. Its national team is widely considered to be the best in the world. Since NBA players were allowed to play in international basketball tournaments, the United States has won all the Olympic tournaments, except for in 2004. In the 1990’s, its squad, known as the “Dream Team” was especially dominant, before other countries started catching up. It featured such greats as Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, and Larry Bird. LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Carmelo Anthony are three more stars that have contributed to the team more recently.
2. Serbia – 65 pts.
Despite being suspended and not qualifying for many tournaments since 1992, Serbia has had the second most success of any nation in basketball. Between 1992 and 2003, the national team competed under the name of FR Yugoslavia, while from 2003 to 2006, they played as Serbia and Montenegro. All the results and medals achieved during this period are currently attributed to the Serbian national team. They earned the silver medal in 1996 and 2016 Olympics. Furthermore, they won the Basketball World Cup in 1998 and 2002. Nikola Jokic, Vlade Divac, and Peja Stojakovic are three of their most notable stars.
3. Spain – 64 pts.
Spain has emerged as another basketball powerhouse in the last few decades. Since 1992, the team did not go past the quarter-finals of the Olympics or the FIBA basketball tournaments. However in 2006, Spain won a surprising victory in the 2006 Basketball World Cup. The team also won it again in 2019. Spain has three Olympic silver medals and a bronze medal as well. The brothers, Marc and Pau Gasol, have been the main driving force behind the team’s success over the past few decades.
4. Argentina – 53 pts.
Since 1992, Argentina is the only country other than the United States to win the Olympic gold medal in basketball. They shocked the US in the 2004 semi-finals and went on to beat Italy in the gold medal game. Argentina also won the Olympic bronze medal in 2008. They have also finished as runners-up in the FIBA Basketball World Cup twice, in 2002 and 2019. The Argentinian team has featured many NBA players, like Manu Ginobelli, Luis Scola, and Andres Nocioni.
5. Lithuania – 36 pts.
Lithuania is a relatively small country, but it has made a big impact in international basketball. It is one of the few countries where basketball is the most popular team sport. Their team won the Olympic bronze medal three consecutive times, in 1992, 1996, and 2000. They have also won the bronze medal in the FIBA Basketball World Cup in 2010. The Lithuanian team has had several great NBA centers over the years, including Arvydas Sabonis, Jonas Valanciunas, and Zydrunas Ilgauskas.
HISTORIC RANKING TABLE OF NATIONAL TEAMS IN BASKETBALL
|National Teams||Overall Total||1992 OLY.||1994 FIBA||1996 OLY.||1998 FIBA||2000 OLY.||2002 FIBA||2004 OLY.||2006 FIBA||2008 OLY.||2010 FIBA||2012 OLY.||2014 FIBA||2016 OLY.||2018 FIBA||2020 OLY.|