FIBA: Indonesia’s World Cup qualification process flawed, lacks creativity

UPDATE: Indonesia has been confirmed as the host of the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup! Did this blog post have anything to do with it? I am not sure, but I have many FIBA employees on my email list... maybe!


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This week FIBA announced the qualification process for the Indonesian national team for the 2023 FIBA World Cup. It is flawed, lacks creativity and does nothing to promote basketball in Indonesia nor its national team. It also does not give them much of a chance.

An exciting and electric three-game winner-gets-the-last-spot play-in series in Indonesia in a sold-out arena?

I just set a world record for hyphens in one sentence, I think.

Indonesia is co-hosting the 2023 World Cup along with Japan and the Philippines, making it the first WC to be hosted by multiple countries. Unlike Japan and the Philippines, who participated in the 2019 WC, the 92nd ranked in the world Indonesia did not receive automatic qualification as a co-host.

In order to secure one of the eight spots allocated to the Asia/Oceania region in the 32-team WC field, the FIBA Executive Committee recently ruled that Indonesia must finish among the first eight teams at the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup.

That is a TALL task for a national team currently ranked 18th in Asia and from a country of 267 million yet whose male population only averages 5’4” (163.55 cm) in height. Tall task indeed.
What makes it even more difficult is the fact Indonesia might not even qualify for the 16-team 2021 FIBA Asia Cup. Then what?

Indonesia is currently 0-2 in the Asia Cup Qualifiers group A and must at least beat Thailand twice to finish in third place (Korea and the Philippines will finish atop the group and grab the two automatic spots that come with that) only to advance with the other five group third place teams to another playoff where the top four will qualify for the actual Asia Cup.

There is no guarantee that they will beat Thailand and there is an even slimmer chance that they will grab one of the last four spots just to get into the Asia Cup.

IF it were to all fall into place for Indonesia and they do qualify for the Asia Cup, I give them no better than a 5% chance of finishing in the top eight. It would take a miracle… and the naturalization of a current NBA player to suit up for the white and red.

Also, it is not fair to Indonesia that they must try to qualify in 2021 and not have two additional years of training, development and preparation to do so.


1. Host the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup in INDONESIA (a host country has yet to be named)

a. Indonesia qualifies automatically as host.
b. Bring a major FIBA event to Indonesia for the first time.
c. Promote the game and the upcoming WC in the country two years out.
d. Use the AC as a test run for the WC games Indonesia will host.
e. No qualification to the WC awarded to Indonesia through this event independent of their place of finish.

2. Automatic qualification for Indonesia to the 2023 WC Asia/Oceania Qualifiers

a. 14 teams (plus Japan and the Philippines) will compete for the remaining six spots in the 2023 WC.
b. If Indonesia finishes in the top six (without counting JPN and PHI) they qualify for the WC. 
c. Chances are slim this would happen, but at least Indonesia would have more time to prepare and improve to increase their chances.

3. If Indonesia does not earn one of the six remaining spots above

a. EXCITING final best-of-three play-in series between Indonesia and the sixth placed team (without counting JPN and PHI) for the last slot in the WC.
b. Game #1 to be played at the home of the other team.
c. Games #2 and #3 (if necessary) to be played in Indonesia in front of sold-out and raucous crowds with basketball history on the line!

Just imagine how that would play out!

In total 80 teams from around the world will participate in the qualifying process for the 2023 WC. What about the other 133 FIBA members?

Click here for that answer.



Author Alan Walls is an American international basketball coach and administrator with over 25 years of experience on the youth, high school, NCAA, professional and national team levels in 16 countries and on five continents.  Walls has worked with the national federations of Turkey, Romania, Palestine, Mongolia, Kenya and El Salvador as well as coached or conducted camps and clinics throughout the United States – including his native Hawai’i – Mexico, Costa Rica, Argentina, China, Hong Kong and Israel. Walls is the founder and Secretary-General of the United Nations of Basketball (2020 launch).


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