8. What Is Jai-Alai And Where Did The Sports Originate One World One Title

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One World One Title

The summer of 2006 is an incredible time for sports fans, especially for those who love soccer and basketball. Before the NBA finals’ end the soccer World Cup will start in Germany and the summer will close with the FIBA World Championship, will be played in Japan from 19th August until 3rd September in five different cities. This competition is played every 4 years and determines the best basketball nation of the world. The FIBA World Championship may not have the prestige of the soccer World Cup or even the basketball tournament of the Olympic Games, but it is one of the few opportunities that basketball fans’ have to watch most of the best players’ of the world in the same competition. That’s why FIBA (the International Basketball Federation) picked “One World, One Title” as the slogan of this Championship.

The first World Championship has taken place in 1950 in Argentina and has since then been organized 14 times. Until 1989 professional players -so all of the ones who play in the NBA- were not permitted to play in international competitions. The United States were forced to participate either with young college players or with other amateur players, with their performance varying significantly from time to time. The Americans were able to win the championship only twice in 1954 and in 1986. Argentina, Brazil, Soviet Union and Yugoslavia took advantage of the absence of the NBA pros to become World Champions during this period.

In 1989 FIBA allowed professional athletes to play in international competitions. So in 1994 the United States participated for the first time in the World Championship’s history with a team consisted by NBAers coached by Don Nelson, which won easily the gold medal. Shaquille O’Neal, Isiah Thomas and Reggie Miller were the biggest stars of the team. In the next competitions though, in 1998 and 2002 Yugoslavia won the gold medal, leaving the United States in the third and in the sixth place respectively. Especially the last Championship was considered as a great failure for the US national team, since the tournament took place on American soil, in Indianapolis. After the failure in Indianapolis and in the Olympic Games of Athens in 2004, where the United States national team came only third USA Basketball appointed Jerry Colangelo to be responsible for selecting the team. Colangelo has selected some of the NBA superstars to play in Japan as Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Shawn Marion who are going to be coached by the legendary NCAA coach Mike Krzyzewski.

The American team will not have an easy job though, since it has to face some really strong teams as the Argentineans who won the gold medal in the Olympiad lead by Manu Ginobilli, the Serbs who are defending World Champions, the French of Ginobilli’s teammate in Spurs Tony Parker, the Germans of the Maverick Dirk Nowitzki, the Spanish of the Grizzle Pau Gasol and the Greeks who won the European Championship in 2005.

Is the United States still the dominant power of World Basketball? We have to wait till September to find out!

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