Take a trip around the globe to explore the state of basketball

— -- The NBA's annual Global Games are taking place this week in two countries, Mexico and England, but when it comes to basketball, it's not such a small world, after all.

To provide deeper insight into the game's standing around the globe, we put the spotlight on 10 countries at various levels of development and devotion to the sport, from the powerhouses of Spain and Serbia to the powerful potential of India -- and those sitting somewhere in between.


Current FIBA ranking: 2

Top current player: Marc Gasol. The Grizzlies center has grown into a top-10 player in the NBA and was an All-NBA first-teamer in 2014-15. On the international stage, he has silver medals from two Olympics to go with world and European titles.

Top all-time player: Pau Gasol. Two NBA titles and six NBA All-Star appearances speak volumes, but the 36-year-old's finest work has arguably come in the uniform of La Roja. Pivotal in Olympic silver runs behind the U.S. in 2008 and 2012, in addition to bronze in 2016, he has shared in three EuroBasket titles, including 2015 when he carried the Spanish in a solo tour de force.

Best team ever: Spain deservedly landed their lone FIBA world championship in 2006 with the emergence of a golden generation that is still hanging around. Add the Gasol brothers to Jose Calderon, Rudy Fernandez, Sergio Rodriguez and Juan Carlos Navarro, and it was the outset of a dominant decade.

Greatest international moment: At the London 2012 Olympics, we saw peak Spain in the gold-medal game, when the United States needed a fourth-quarter push to win 107-100. It was, in every way, two superpowers going head to head. How long until the U.S. receives that kind of challenge again?

Top club team: Currently Real Madrid, often FC Barcelona -- just like in soccer. Real has won 33 Liga ACB crowns and nine EuroLeague titles, both records.

Hoops pioneer: Fernando Martin was the first Spaniard to make the NBA when he joined the Portland Trail Blazers in 1986 after helping Spain to Olympic silver in 1984. He was a do-everything forward who blazed a trail before his death in a car accident at the age of 27.


Current FIBA ranking: 3

Top current player: Milos Teodosic has consistently rebuffed the NBA, but he won a EuroLeague title in 2016 with CSKA Moscow and MVP award with Greece's Olympiacos in 2010. And the point guard pulled the strings as Serbia claimed silvers at the 2014 FIBA World Cup and 2016 Rio Olympics.

Top all-time player: Dejan Bodiroga never came to the NBA, but he won two world championships, three EuroBasket titles and Olympic silver in 1996 representing Yugoslavia, plus multiple EuroLeague, Greek and Spanish league MVP honors.

Best team ever: The Yugoslavia team of the early 1990s featured Vlade Divac and Toni Kukoc, and it would have been fascinating to see that squad go up against the U.S. Dream Team in 1992. Instead, the Balkans splintered, and it's taken until the past few years for a new great Serbia squad to emerge.

Greatest international moment: A team made up completely of Serbians, playing as Yugoslavia (which at the time consisted of several modern-day Balkan states), was a perfect 9-0 to win EuroBasket 1995, fueled by Divac, Bodiroga and a 41-point blast from Sasa Djordjevic to see off Lithuania in the final.

Top club team: KK Crvena zvezda, once known as Red Star Belgrade, are the reigning Adriatic League champions, and though their fortunes have ebbed and flowed, they currently have the upper hand over bitter rivals Partizan.

Hoops pioneer: Divac was among Europe's NBA pioneers and was one of the first centers to float outside. He also was steadfast in his loyalty to the national team.


Current FIBA ranking: 7

Top current player: Houston Rockets forward Nene averaged team-highs of 13 points and 6.4 rebounds at Rio 2016 last summer, but Brazil was eliminated in their home Olympics after the group phase with a 2-3 record.

Top all-time player: Probably the greatest player never to come to the NBA, Oscar Schmidt is considered the all-time leading scorer in the sport with 49,737 points in his club and international career. He appeared in five Olympics during a 29-year playing career that saw success in Italy, Spain and his native land.

Best team ever: Schmidt was the key in the 1978 world championship squad that took bronze in a fantastic tandem with twin towers Ubiratan Pereira Maciel and Marquinhos. The Brazilians lost to the Soviets in the semifinal round before edging Italy 86-85 for third.

Greatest international moment: Brazil, led by tournament MVP Amaury Pasos and high-scoring Wlamir Marques, won its first FIBA world championship in 1959 (and repeated four years later) in Chile. With the USSR refusing to face Chinese Taipei for political reasons in the final classification round, Brazil secured gold ahead of an American team made up of players from the U.S. Air Force.

Top club team: Flamengo has been champions of Brazil's premier league, the NBB, every year since 2013, landed FIBA's world club title in 2014 and has been among Brazil's leading teams since its foundation in 1895.

Hoops pioneer: Togo Renan Soares, known as Kanela, was the coaching mastermind behind Brazil's surge to international prominence in the 1950s and '60s with two world championships and an Olympic bronze in addition to 12 domestic league titles with Flamengo.


Current FIBA ranking: 10

Top current player: Patty Mills (with a nod to Andrew Bogut). Leader in scoring at the 2012 Olympics and second at Rio 2016, Mills has shown consistently with the Boomers what San Antonio Spurs fans see occasionally -- that he's a legit starting point guard with a terrific all-around game. (We aren't counting Kyrie Irving, who was born in Australia to American parents, grew up in the U.S. and has dual citizenship.)

Top all-time player: A five-time Olympian, Andrew Gaze was the first Australian to make an impact overseas, helping Seton Hall reach the 1989 NCAA championship game in his only year there. He also had stints in the NBA with Washington and San Antonio and played in Italy and Greece. A prolific scorer, he helped the Aussies to fourth at Atlanta 1996 and carried his country's flag on home soil at Sydney 2000.

Best team ever: With seven current or former NBA players, Australia contended for its first Olympic basketball medal at the 2016 Games. But the Boomers had an offensive meltdown in a semifinal loss to Serbia before an 89-88 defeat to Spain in the bronze-medal game.

Top club team: The reigning National Basketball League champion Perth Wildcats have won a record seven titles and reached the playoffs for 30 successive years, no mean feat in a league where teams have come and gone amid waves of financial upheaval.

Greatest international moment: At Rio 2016, the Boomers went toe-to-toe with the United States in the group phase and restarted the debate about American individualism vs. true team play. The U.S. needed 31 points from Carmelo Anthony in a bailout 98-88 win after Australia was within reach of a major scalp.

Hoops pioneer: Now 80 and in the Naismith Hall of Fame, Lindsay Gaze played at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo before coaching his country in four Games. That's in addition to a long spell in charge of the Melbourne Tigers. He elevated the standard of coaches, as well as generating an illustrious son (see above).


Current FIBA ranking: 15

Top current player: Brooklyn Nets guard Greivis Vasquez is the Venezuelan who has made the biggest impact recently, with an NBA tour around six teams since 2010. However he hasn't always been a fixture on national duty.

Top all-time player: Carl Herrera was a member of the Houston Rockets' back-to-back title squads of 1994 and '95. He helped his nation make a silver-medal run at the 1992 FIBA Americas Championship, where the U.S. Dream Team made its international debut.

Best team ever: The current group, led by veteran point guard Gregory Vargas, has proved itself pretty formidable, though it suffered from Vasquez's absence at the 2016 Olympics. The team could use a fresh injection of youth.

Greatest international moment: Winning the 2015 FIBA Americas Championships, held in Mexico, has been the country's biggest accomplishment. After stunning Canada 79-78 in the semis, Venezuela rallied past Argentina 76-71 in the final, with Heissler Guillent standing out as the country qualified for the Olympics for only the second time.

Top club team: Marinos de Anzoategui has won a record 11 titles in Venezuela's LPB, most recently in 2015, and has a long-standing rivalry with Cocodrilos de Caracas, the reigning champions.

Hoops pioneer: Herrera wasn't just an Olympian and the first Venezuelan citizen to play in the NBA; he later played and coached in the domestic league.


Current FIBA ranking: 16

Top current player: An eighth overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, Al-Farouq Aminu has represented Nigeria through his family ties despite growing up in Atlanta and attending Wake Forest. He was a central presence as D'Tigers took their first FIBA AfroBasket title in 2015.

Top all-time player: Like Aminu, Ike Diogu was born in the U.S. to Nigerian parents and was a first-round NBA draftee, by Golden State in 2005. After six NBA seasons, he's divided his career among China, Puerto Rico and the NBA D-League, and he was also part of Nigeria's squad at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics and the victorious AfroBasket 2015 team.

Best team ever: With American Will Voigt as coach, the 2015 roster included Diogu, Aminu, former NBA player Olumide Oyedeji, Detroit Pistons rookie guard Michael Gbinije and several Europe-based players, a testament to Nigeria's ability to profit from the country's diaspora.

Greatest international moment: Nigeria made an impressive run through an Olympic qualification tournament in Venezuela in 2012, beating powerhouses Lithuania and Greece on their way to an elimination game against the Dominican Republic, which it took 88-73 to earn a trip to London. At the Games, the lone victory for D'Tigers was against Tunisia, leaving them in 10th place.

Top club team: Kano Pillars won the Nigerian Premier League title in 2016, topping a 17-team domestic league, and finished fourth in the FIBA Africa Champions Cup.

Hoops pioneer: Although he eventually represented the United States internationally (winning gold at the 1996 Olympics) after playing for Nigeria as a junior, Hakeem Olajuwon lit the torch for African-born players. He starred at the University of Houston and then with the Houston Rockets, winning two NBA titles and the 1994 MVP award. The Hall of Famer has been involved in a number of outreach programs in African basketball since he retired.


Current FIBA ranking: 19

Top current player: Although he spent three seasons in the NBA, Gustavo Ayon has enjoyed his greatest success while helping Real Madrid earn Spanish league, EuroLeague and Intercontinental Cup titles. The center was the tournament MVP as Mexico earned the gold medal at the 2013 FIBA Americas Championship.

Top all-time player: Manuel Raga played in three Olympics and was part of Mexico's silver-medal squad at the 1967 Pan American Games. He won three EuroLeague titles with Italian club Varese in the 1970s and entered the FIBA Hall of Fame in 2016.

Best team ever: Mexico was a global power in the early days of international basketball, earning a bronze medal in the sport's debut Olympics in Berlin in 1936, losing 25-10 to the U.S. in the semifinals before beating Poland 26-12. The tournament was played on outdoor tennis courts, which got messy when it rained during the gold-medal game.

Greatest international moment: Although the country gained a berth in only the 2013 FIBA Americas Championship as a late replacement for Panama, to universal surprise Mexico went 3-1 in the group stage and then eliminated Argentina in the semis and held off Puerto Rico in the final to secure its first continental title.

Top club team: Halcones de Xalapa has won four titles and been runner-up three times since the LNBP was established in 2000.

Hoops pioneer: Alberto Almanza arrived in the U.S. in 1954 to play high school basketball before spending three years as a starter at the University of Texas. The forward played for Mexico at the Olympics in 1960 and 1964.

Great Britain

Current FIBA ranking: 22

Top current player: Point guard Andrew Lawrence, who attended College of Charleston, was a surprise youthful starter at the 2012 Olympics but has matured into the team's leader. He now plays at French side Chalon-Reims.

Top all-time player: A product of London's Brixton program, Luol Deng ignited Britain's surge from 2006 to 2012. The NBA veteran, who as a child came to the U.K. after his family fled Sudan's civil war, garnered two All-Star selections during his time with the Chicago Bulls.

Best team ever: Even without an injured Deng, Great Britain's best roster went to EuroBasket 2009 in Poland with NBA journeymen Pops Mensah-Bonsu and Robert Archibald alongside Euro veterans Andrew Betts, Joel Freeland and Drew Sullivan. They went winless in a tough group, but just getting that far was a breakthrough.

Greatest international moment: Awarded a host berth, Great Britain was under pressure to prove its value at the London 2012 Olympics. After losing a heartbreaker by a single point to eventual silver-medalist Spain in pool play, the British rebounded against China to get a first Games win since 1948 behind 16 points from current captain Kieron Achara.

Top club team: The Newcastle Eagles, coached by New York-born Fabulous Flournoy, have dominated the domestic British Basketball League with seven titles in the past 11 seasons, though the Leicester Riders are the reigning champions.

Hoops pioneer: Steve Bucknall went on scholarship to North Carolina under Dean Smith and had a cup of tea with the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1988-89 NBA season before embarking on an odyssey around Europe. He is regarded as the role model who inspired the current crop of internationals.


Current FIBA ranking: 24

Top current player: Minnesota Timberwolves forward Andrew Wiggins was the 2015 NBA Rookie of the Year led the national team to third place at the 2015 FIBA Americas Championship.

Top all-time player: Steve Nash changed the way the world looked at Canadian basketball with his NBA exploits and two MVP awards. He was instrumental in his nation's run to the quarterfinals of the 2000 Olympics in Sydney but was left in tears, feeling a medal had been an obtainable goal.

Best team ever: The 2020 Olympic squad? The generation that grew up with the Toronto Raptors and was inspired by Nash includes the likes of Wiggins and Tristan Thompson. The Canadians failed to qualify for Rio 2016, but their potential is huge, with 11 players on NBA rosters heading into the current season.

Greatest international moment: Canada took gold at the 1983 World University Games in Edmonton, Alberta, beating a United States team featuring Charles Barkley, Karl Malone and Johnny Dawkins in the semis before shocking Yugoslavia in the final. The roster included future Bulls center Bill Wennington and eventual Raptors and Canada coach Jay Triano.

Top club team: Toronto Raptors. By some distance. Then the D-League's Raptors 905. Although the Halifax Hurricanes are the champs of the still-evolving domestic National Basketball League of Canada.

Hoops pioneer: The ultimate pioneer, Dr. James Naismith, who ventured south to Springfield, Massachusetts, and invented the sport while teaching physical education at a college there. He oversaw its rules evolution and coached at the University of Kansas, and he saw his "athletic distraction" become an Olympic sport before his death in 1939.


Current FIBA ranking: 53

Top current player: Satnam Singh plays for the NBA D-League's Texas Legends and was a second-round pick by the Dallas Mavericks in 2015. He emerged through the IMG Academy in Florida via a talent development initiative also involving India's national federation and industrial conglomerate Reliance after being spotted at one of the NBA/FIBA Basketball Without Borders camps.

Top all-time player: Singh probably takes that honor, but Sozhasingarayer Robinson -- now 36 -- has long been regarded as India's leading light, guiding the country to the 2004 FIBA Asia Stankovic Cup title and playing overseas in Iran. He also gained notoriety for temporarily quitting in protest at a lack of support for the national team in his cricket-crazy homeland.

Best team ever: With home advantage, India rolled unbeaten to win the 2015 South Asia Basketball Association Championship and qualify for the FIBA Asia Championship. The Young Cagers went 5-0 in the SABA tournament, including a 122-39 shellacking of Bangladesh.

Greatest international moment: In the preliminary round of the 2014 FIBA Asia Cup, India pulled out an unexpected 65-58 victory over host China by holding the hosts to eight points in the fourth quarter -- despite a gap of 50 places in the world rankings.

Top club team: The federation-IMG-Reliance partnership has yet to realize its plan for a franchise-based professional league despite the launch of youth/college competitions and a talent identification system. Instead, the unsanctioned United Basketball Alliance has contested three short seasons since it began in 2015, with the Chennai Slam winning two championships.

Hoops pioneer: Paramjit Singh was India's captain in its lone Olympic appearance, in Moscow in 1980, when the country finished 12th out of 12 teams, going 0-7 and losing by an average of 48.4 points. But with Paramjit Singh as its star, an entirely amateur squad did finish fifth at the FIBA Asia Championship the years before and after.