2011 Round-up: Basketball

N. Mauricio of Angola
In the first of a series of articles wrapping up the 2011 action for the world’s major sports, we focus on Basketball, picking up the story from the Asian Men Basketball Championships 2011.
The tournament  produced a treble winner. China, host nation in Wuhan, took the title with a last-second basket over tenacious underdogs Jordan, the final score 70-69.
Beside the victory, the Chinese toast the Continental double, having already won the Ladies 2011 title, and, last but not least, they claim the 2011 Basketball Global Cup victory.
In an action-packed year, thanks to Continental tournaments all over the world, some 47 nations scored GSN points, a record over the past three years.
Yet one of the biggest news items  was the absence of the USA from the pool of contestants. With no world title up for grabs, the USA giants decided to let the many Jacks on the beanstalks fight for the Continental titles.
For the men, the continental winners were China, Australia, Argentina, Tunisia and Spain.
For the Ladies, China, Australia, Brasil, Angola and Russia.
Compared to the last two years, the Basketball Global Cup top five nations remained largely unchanged. With China, Russia, France and Spain emerging as regular powers, the main changes in the last two years are the absence of the 2010 title holders, the USA, and the presence of Angola. The small African nation finished fourth (they were second in 2009!) thanks to the Continental victory in the Ladies and second place in the Men, a truly outstanding achievement for a country that lies 57th in the Global Cup, coupled by 9th place in the Basketball Per Capita Cup.
The underachievers of note were Serbia (7th in 2009 and off the map in 2011), Greece and Iran.
For the record, the Basketball Per Capita Cup has been won by Montenegro, over Macedonia and Lithuania.
Two players outshone all others as standard-bearers of international basketball : the Chinese power forward Yi Jianlian among the men (24 years old and a 5 years NBA experience to his credit, with the Milwaukee Bucks, New Jersey Nets and Washington Wizards, though he now plays for the Guangdong Southern Tigers in China), voted MVP of the Asian Championships; and Nassecela Mauricio of Angola, MVP of Women Afrobasket 2011 after Angola defeated favourite Senegal in the final.