When underdogs shocked the world
MIES (Switzerland) - All fans of all sports root for the underdog - except when their own team is the opponent. Here are several of the greatest underdog stories from the past two decades in international basketball.
The upset of all upsets: Greece 101 USA 95
This just wasn't supposed to happen. The USA boasted LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Dwight Howard at the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2006. However, the Americans couldn't contain Theo Papaloukis, Vasilis Spanoulis, man-mountain Sofoklis Schortsanitis and Greece's pick-and-roll as Panagiotis Giannakis' men pulled off the most famous win in World Cup history before a stunned Saitama Super Arena crowd in Japan.
Mongolia, 1st Place FIBA 3x3 Asia Cup 2017
Scaling the heights in international basketball was not what most fans would have envisioned for Mongolia yet when the country staged the second edition of the FIBA 3x3 Asia Cup in Ulaanbaatar, the hosts pulled off a tremendous feat. Along the way, they went to overtime against Australia in the Semi-Finals and won, and then against New Zealand in the Final, Mongolia broke open a close game late and claimed a 19-14 victory.
Miracle in Kaunas: North Macedonia 67 Lithuania 65
Just a year on from their thrilling run to third place at the FIBA Basketball World Cup in Istanbul, Lithuania hosted FIBA EuroBasket 2011 and saw their title hopes go "poof" following a late go-ahead three-pointer from North Macedonia's Vlado Ilievski. A perennial contender for medals, Lithuania bowed out of contention for a spot on the podium in Kaunas and people poured into the streets of Skopje to celebrate.
Belarus, 3rd place at FIBA Women's EuroBasket 2007
From the "coming out of nowhere" department, Belarus, playing in the FIBA Women's EuroBasket for the first time, in Chieti, since winning promotion from Division B, made it all the way to the podium. Yelena Leuchanka, Natalia Marchanka, Anastasiya Verameyenka, Tatyana Troina and Katsiaryna Snytsina came from behind in the fourth quarter to beat defending champions Czech Republic in the Quarter-Finals and ultimately Latvia in the Third-Place Game.
New Zealand, 4th place at FIBA Basketball World Cup 2002
First, New Zealand, famous for its rugby and the Haka, overcame Australia in the FIBA Oceania Championship 2001 to reach the FIBA Basketball World Cup in Indianapolis. The legendary Tall Blacks team coached by Tab Baldwin even led eventual champions Yugoslavia by 9 points at half-time in the Semi-Finals. Ultimately, they settled for fourth place but the performance in Indiana put New Zealand basketball on the map.
Egypt, AfroBasket 2013 Finalists
The Pharaohs lost their first three games yet turned things around in stunning fashion, upsetting defending champions and north African rivals Tunisia in the Round of 16 and then Cape Verde in the Quarter-Finals and Senegal in the Semi-Finals. Though Angola beat them in the title game, Egypt left the tournament in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire, with their heads held high and a ticket to the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2014 in Spain.
Last time USA women lost! Russia won 75-68 at 2006 World Cup
This was a huge upset. Monumental! Especially when you look back at the winning streak the USA was on. The most dominant team in international basketball had gone unbeaten at the 1996, 2000 and 2004 Olympics, and at the World Cups in 1998 and 2002. And this was a strong team, one that had Diana Taurasi, Sue Bird, Candace Parker, Katie Smith, Tina Thompson, Tamika Catchings and Seimone Augustus. Russia stunned them, though, although they then fell to Australia in the title game. The USA, meanwhile, haven't lost since.
Venezuela, 1st Place FIBA AmeriCup 2015
Hammered 82-62 in the Group Phase by a Canada team that had Andrew Wiggins, Cory Joseph, Anthony Bennett and Nik Stauskas, and then thumped by Argentina, Mexico and Uruguay, Venezuela morphed into a relentless, combative squad that wouldn't be denied its moment of glory. After winning their Quarter-Final against Panama, Venezuela edged the Canadians at the death, 79-78, to qualify for the Rio Olympics. The Vinotinto then squared off in the Final against Argentina, who had Luis Scola, Andres Nocioni, Facundo Campazzo, Nicolas Laprovittola and Patricio Garino, and prevailed 76-71, to lift the AmeriCup trophy.