1. USA vs. Spain
The Dream Team changed how the world saw basketball in 1992 and inspired players from all across the globe to raise their game. In more recent years Spain has emerged to be the second-best ranked team in the world, with NBA talent on their roster including the likes of Pau Gasol, Serge Ibaka and Jose Calderon.
2. Argentina vs. Brazil
Some rivalries between countries are so strong they carry through every sport. Argentina and Brazil are known for their soccer rivalry but their passion for country and sport has definitely affected basketball. Both teams possess NBA talent including Manu Ginobli, Luis Scola, Nene and Leandro Barbosa.
3. South Korea vs. Japan
Japan and South Korea’s rivalry is deeply rooted in the countries’ political history. Despite decades of turmoil and conflict, through sport, these two countries came together to jointly host the 2002 World Cup. No matter what is being played, when the national teams play against each other, they know the population of their countries are watching to cheer them on.
4. USA vs. The Soviet Union
Casual fans might not know this, but in 1972 the USA Basketball team narrowly lost in a highly controversial final against The Soviet Union. In the history of USAB, it was one of the most upsetting losses of all time. The ruling seemed so unjust that the US boycotted the podium, leaving the silver medal side powerfully empty. This game lingered in the hearts and minds of many USA basketball fans, that is until the ’92 Dream Team came along.
5. Australia vs. New Zealand
New Zealand’s Rugby team is the All Blacks, and their basketball team goes by The Tall Blacks. And the Aussies go by the Boomers. Awesome names aside, these countries take their basketball seriously, going head to head last fall to try to qualify for the world championships, with the Boomers prevailing. Oh, never disrespect the Haka, New Zealanders do it regardless of the sport.
6. Serbia vs. Greece
Serbia and Greece may have not had a long history of rivalry in the game of Basketball but at the 2010 Acropolis Tournament, the game became so heated a major fight broke out between the teams right there on the court.
7. Taiwan vs. The Philippines
According to some reports, the Philippines-Taiwan basketball rivalry goes back as far as 1950s. The teams have faced off against each other dozens of times in both the FIBA Asian Championship and the Williams Jones Cup. In recent years, The Philippines national team has consistently dominated its Taiwanese rivals.
8. Jordan vs. Iran
Like Serbia vs. Greece, Jordan and Iran’s national Basketball teams also found themselves engaged in a heated brawl - this one at the 2009 Jones Cup.
9. Panathinaikos vs. Olympiakos
Technically not a global rivalry, the history between these two Greek clubs is worth mentioning because of its nickname alone: “Derby of the eternal enemies.” This year, Olympiakos won over Panathinaikos for the first time in 15 years. Celebrations among the passionate crowd of 14,000 happened and both coaches respectfully gave each other props, without incident.
Somewhere, someone is working on their game. Watch this global rivalry unfold for two players determined to rise above the competition.