Most Controversial moment in FIBA World Cup History?

Published 08/22/2023, 9:04 AM EDT

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FIBA is probably the most prestigious event in the basketball world. Best players from all around the world battle out to hold the world title. FIBA holds various tournaments, but the World Cup features the top players. Ever since its inauguration in 1932, the event has displayed intense clashes that define the spirit of hardwood.

FIBA is also known for its strict rules and unbiased approach to maintaining the sanctity of the sport. However, even with FIBA’s history, certain games stand out not because of athletic prowess but the surrounding controversies. Powered by high stakes and passion for the game, these moments have left an indelible mark on fans and involved athletes. 

One such remarkable instance occurred during the 2010 FIBA World Cup semifinal. In light of the fierce competition and shot at the finals, several opinions were raised about France and Serbia’s game. However, like every basketball game, the outcome left a bitter taste on one side. What makes the game unique is that, even after years, disputing echoes raise concerns from hardcore fans. 


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What makes for the most prominent FIBA controversy?

Serbia and Turkey faced to elevate to the finals on September 11, 2010. With Istanbul being the venue, Turkey was all set for the showdown. They started their journey, staying undefeated in the Group phase. Their dominance continued as they trumped France in the Round of 16; and later overwhelmed Slovenia in the Quarter-Finals, marking themselves as clear favorites.

On the other side, Serbia was going through a mixed journey. They began by making headlines for their mass brawl against Greece. They stumbled early against Germany but scraped past Argentina in the Group rounds. Then came multiple heart-wrenching wins in a nail-biter against Croatia (73-72) and a fierce battle versus Spain (92-89).

The initial pivotal moment came near the end of the 1st quarter when the referee was seen uttering in Hedo Turkoglu’s ears. The instance did not make up for much since Serbia led 42-35 during the half. In the third quarter, an unyielding back-and-forth ensued. The contest epitomized grit, with both teams displaying extraordinary plays and shots.

The game’s momentum shifted dramatically with a pivotal moment: Nenad Krstic drew a shooting foul with only 16.8 seconds remaining. A charged play followed as Kerem Tunceri drove and passed to Semih Erden along the baseline, a collision redirecting Krstic into Erden. Despite the foul on Krstic, the replay contradicted any contact with Erden’s shot. Significantly, the replay highlighted Krstic’s deliberate attempt to avoid interfering with Semih.

The call marked Krstic’s fifth foul, rendering Serbia vulnerable and offering Turkey the chance to take the lead. However, Serbia swiftly orchestrated a play that resulted in an unanswered and-1 appeal on Velickovic’s make. The zenith of controversy unfolded during Turkey’s inbound from half court. To date, fans plead Tunceri stepped out of bounds before sinking the decisive game-winning shot. 

The clash has since evolved into a timeless masterpiece, a nail-biter bursting with controversy from players’ and referees’ decisions

USA diminished Turkey’s hope to lift the title at home


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Turkey World Cup was the fourth time the continent embraced FIBA. The reigning champions, Spain, faced Quarter-Finals elimination. This left the host team aspiring to keep the World Cup on their soil. Yet, the USA, with an unswerving determination to break their 16-year title drought, stole the spotlight. Their path was relentless as they surged past every challenger en route to clinching the championship against Turkey.

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In a poignant scene, Kevin Durant embraced Mike Krzyzewski’s plan for him. It led to Durant being named the tournament’s MVP. On the final night, his comrades turned to him, urging him to carry the offensive torch. Durant responded by commanding 28 points in an epic final performance. 


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As the final buzzer triumphantly rang, the USA squad consisting of LeBron James and Kobe Bryant sealed their 81-64 victory. The 12 men engraved their names in glory, propelling the USA to the highest ranks again.

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Written by:

Saahil Dhillan


One take at a time

Saahil Dhillan is an NBA Writer at Essentially Sports. He has been writing articles and blogs for 5 years now, including those for a sports brand that manufactures knee braces, for a Red Bull athlete in 2019 and for a documentary of an Ultra Running Coach in 2021. There’s plenty Saahil can write about why he likes basketball, having followed the NBA for more than 10 years, but he is most keen on picking out various offense/defense strategies, on/off-court decisions, roster changes in crunch time and other underrated key elements that leave an impact on the scoreboard.
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Edited by:

Saumya Khanduja