The Best New Format For Basketball In The 2016 Olympics

If we all watched the same Olympics over the past month – including the qualifying games – then we all saw the United States dominate nearly every country outside of Spain in the gold medal game. Spain made it that far. They weren’t supposed to get dominated. They did their job. But so did Team USA.

In Beijing in 2008, the “Redeem Team” took center stage as USA Basketball compiled the best talent in the world, sending them out to reclaim the gold that escaped them in 2004. They responded with a resounding 8-0 record, embarrassing teams by an average margin of 27.8 points per game.

This year they stepped their game up even more, blowing out the competition by 32.1 points per game, including an 83-point win over Nigeria on their way to another 8-0 run to the gold.

In this eight-year run, Team USA has beaten 11 different countries by an average margin of 30 points. China, Angola, Greece, Germany, France, Tunisia, Nigeria, Lithuania, Australia (twice), Argentina (three times), and Spain (three times) were all no match.

Translation: The rest of the world is that far behind us again.

Changing the format has been discussed, but it looks like it won’t be an age rule, at least not in 2016. Still, change could be interesting to level the playing field. The Olympics are all about giving every country a chance at immortality against the larger countries. Why not shake things up and instead of watching France, Spain, Lithuania, and others fall just short in the Olympics as individuals, why not just call them Europe?

Tony Parker, Pau Gasol, Luol Deng, Andrea Bargnani, Nicolas Batum, Jonas Valanciunas, J.C. Navarro, and others would make for a very challenging “Team Europe.” There is a lot of young talent growing throughout numerous European countries, enough to make a gold medal team.

Then take Argentina, Mexico (even if it is technically a North American country), Brazil, among others, and call them South America.

That team could be loaded. Ginobili, Barbosa, Nene, Delfino, Scola, Nocioni, Splitter, Varejao, and Huertas would be very formidable against any team put on a basketball court.

Asia is represented by China, Japan, the Koreas, and others in the region. Africa rolls alone. And Australia is what it is. These six continents would provide stellar basketball.

Team Africa, Team Asia, Team Australia, Team Europe, Team North America, and Team South America in a six-team tournament leading to the gold, silver and bronze could rival the excitement of any NBA game. This is not the ideal Olympic format, but would be better than the product we currently have.

Heck, even Team Africa could be awesome to watch with Bismack Biyombo, Ike Diogu, Serge Ibaka (from the Congo… if we could get him away from Spain), the Aminu brothers, and all the other young talent filtering into the NCAA.

The format is simple. No qualifying, all six teams are in. Two pools play each team twice and can be shuffled however FIBA feels with the top four teams (two from each side) advancing to the medal round.

If we had to rank the countries today it would be:

1. North America
2. Europe
3. South America
4. Asia
5. Australia
6. Africa

Pool A: North America, South America, and Australia
Pool B: Europe, Asia, and Africa

How amazing would a medal round of North America-Asia and Europe-South America be? Let me answer that for you. AMAZING! Nearly every game would be must-see basketball. It’d be like watching an NBA All-Star Game in the summer, except everyone would be trying to win.

Alright FIBA, the ground work is laid out for you here. Nobody is looking for credit for the idea, but let’s get the ball rolling on the Continental Olympics for 2016.

Could this work? Would you rather watch this?

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