A significant contributor to the success of international basketball was Forrest C. (“Phog”) Allen, a disciple of Naismith and a former coach at the University of Kansas. They led the movement to include basketball in the Olympics in 1936 and beyond. Basketball has also been played since the Pan American Games opened in 1951. International competitions are organized by the International Federation of Amateur Basketball (FIBA). The men’s world championships began in 1950, and the women’s world championships began in 1953. (The men’s championship was renamed the FIBA Basketball World Cup in 2014.) Under international rules, the course differs in that there is no front or backcourt, and the penalty lanes form a modified wedge. There are some rules differences, including substitutions, technical and personal fouls, free throws, halftime, and timeouts—few places outside the United States strictly separate amateur and professional athletes.
Basketball is especially popular in Italy. The Italian professional basketball league is highly regarded and famous in the country. Spain also has several basketball leagues, mainly the ACB (Asociación de Clubes de Baloncesto). Another major center of European basketball is Eastern Europe, especially the Balkans. Although the Euroleague is not officially allied with the US NBA, there is a link between European & American basketball. It is not common for European players to be drafted by the NBA, and not unusual for American players to play in Europe. American players in the Euroleague tend to be older players who have completed successful Natioanal Basketball Association careers in the United States or younger players who have not yet been drafted into the NBA.