FIBA world rankings are computed according to an eight-year cycle, taking into account the following tournaments:
- Continental championships (FIBA Asia, FIBA Africa, FIBA Americas, Eurobasket, FIBA Oceania)
- FIBA World Cup (FIBA World Championship until 2010)
- Olympic basketball tournament
FIBA released its latest rankings after the Eurobasket tournament, and there were some teams that moved more than others.
Whenever a new tournament is played, the one that took place eight years before is dropped from the computation. Teams' placings in the tournaments determine the points they have gained or lost and affect their world rankings.
Here are the teams that have taken giant leaps in the latest FIBA world rankings. All of them performed well in the 2013 continental championship cycle, and by the time FIBA World Cup 2014 comes around, some of them will improve their rankings even further.
Note: Teams that have entered the FIBA World Rankings for the first time are not included.
10. Republic of Congo (82 to 77, +5)
After missing out on the 2005, 2007 and 2011 editions of the FIBA Africa championship, the Republic of Congo team have made a dent, small it may be, on the African basketball landscape. Their 14-place finish was a definite improvement from the 16th-place showing they had in 2009 and added more points to their ranking.
9. Rwanda (67 to 62, +5)
After not qualifying for FIBA Africa prior to 2007, Rwanda have strung up four consecutive appearances, culminating in a tenth-place finish in 2013. They performed creditably in the group stage, they faced off against eventual third placers Senegal, losing by only ten points. With a very young crew with an average age of 24, the Rwanda national team have a lot of competitions to join, and a lot of improvement still to be done.
8. Ukraine (50 to 45, +5)
The 2013 FIBA Eurobasket tournament produced a lot of surprises, and Ukraine is among them. After finishing 17th among 24 teams in 2011, Mike Fratello paraded a team that had more new names than holdovers, including Eugene "Pooh" Jeter, Sergiy Gladyr and Viacheslav Kravtsov, and managed to place 6th, their best FIBA Eurobasket result ever. As a result, Ukraine will go on to the 2014 FIBA World Cup where they plan to spring more surprises.
7. Mexico (32 to 24, +8)
Mexico has had a proud basketball tradition spanning 80 years, one Olympic bronze medal, and seven Olympics appearances. However, a streak of mediocre FIBA Americas performances meant that basketball was often relegated to the sidelines. 2013 was a watershed year for the Mexicans, who took advantage of the absence of many key opponents to grab their first-ever gold medal. This is not so say that Mexico does not have talent, though -- they boast the likes of Atlanta Hawks forward Gustavo Ayon and former WKU Hilltopper Orlando Mendez, who provide hustle and scoring that can match up with the best of the Western Hemisphere.
6. Paraguay (55 to 46, +9)
Featuring a roster with no one standing over 6'9" and playing in either Paraguay or in the Argentinian league, Paraguay has turned out to be the biggest improver in the Americas. This is because they have gone to the FIBA Americas championship twice after missing the tournament every time since 1989 and have placed in the top ten both times. The man to watch, Guillermo Araujo, is at the peak of his career, and he deserves to have another shot at the quarterfinals in 2015.
5. Finland (48 to 39, +9)
From 1979 to 2009, the Finland national team qualified for the FIBA Eurobasket tournament only once, in 1995, where they placed 14th. From 2011, though, they have capitalised on the scoring of Petteri Koponen, and in 2013, added the inside presence of Gerald Lee, Jr. They might not be the tallest team in Europe, but they are in no way undersized. The scary part is that both Koponen and Lee are just 25.
4. Philippines (45 to 34, +11)
A country with an intense passion for basketball, the Philippines' FIBA ranking has not always reflected the talent level present in the Southeast Asian archipelago. When FIBA Asia decided to hold the continental championship in the capital city Manila, though, the Filipinos showed they can compete if they manage to field a deep lineup. Behind the speed of Jayson Castro and hustle of the team's complement of quick forwards, the undersized yet tough Filipinos captured the silver medal -- their best result in 28 years -- and a ticket to Spain, where they plan to surprise even more unsuspecting teams.
3. Czech Republic (61 to 48, +13)
The Czechs have made it to FIBA Eurobasket thrice since separating from the former Czechoslovakia: 1999, 2007 and 2013. Each appearance has seen them finish no higher than 11th. But 2013 proved to be a pivotal year in terms of their world ranking as the points they gained in FIBA Eurobasket 2013 proved to be more than enough to erase the stigma of 2009 and 2011, where they did not qualify at all. If the team featuring the likes of Jiri Welsch, Jan Vesely and Maurice Whitfield can play together a bit more, they might just snag themselves a quarterfinals slot in 2015.
2. Egypt (60 to 46, +14)
The Saharan country is fast regaining the lofty spot that they occupied from the 1980s to the 1990s. After missing the FIBA Afrobasket in 2005, they have since qualified four times, placing 4th in 2007 and 10th and 11th, respectively. With their silver-medal finish in 2013, coach Amr Aboul-Kheir's men have placed themselves in the thick of any championship discussion. Veteran guard Wael Badr might be gaining on in years, but the rest of the team still have a lot of basketball left to be played. With an automatic bid to the 2014 FIBA World Cup, it will be exciting to see what the Egyptians are capable of doing.
1. Belgium (77 to 50, +27)
The Belgians have been an afterthought in European hoops, qualifying for FIBA Eurobasket only four times since 1979. However, with new talent being developed, it won't be long until we see Belgium in the race for medals in the near future. After finishing 21st in 2011, the Belgians finished ninth in 2013, their best result in three decades. Belgium has a burgeoning professional scene, and many of the national team's players are active at the Euroleague level. Power forward Axel Hervelle, the starter for Spanish league team Bilbao Basket, leads the charge. Once former LA Laker DJ Mbenga is called up to the team again, the Belgian frontline will be able to match up with even the taller Balkan countries.
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