Slovenia’s EuroBasket Summit

Emre Günbay October 2013

PLAYED EVERY TWO YEARS, EUROBASKET IS EUROPEAN BASKETBALL’S TOP COMPETITION. EUROBASKET 2013, WHICH ALSO NUMBERS TURKISH AIRLINES AMONG ITS SPONSORS, TOOK PLACE THIS YEAR IN SLOVENIA, SEPTEMBER 4 TO 22.

EuroBasket’te Slovenya Zirvesi
EuroBasket’te Slovenya Zirvesi

Hosting this year’s basketball championship was a piece of cake for Slovenia, where people are crazy about the sport. All the teams were pleased as pie to be doing what they love best in this country of natural wonders. Fans come to support their countries’ teams painted the host cities red, turning the championship into a veritable festival, while those who couldn’t make it were sorry to have missed a basketball fest in such a setting.
If we look now at the basketball side of it, some countries played here with teams that were missing their world-famous stars. But the level of competition in the games and the teams’ endurance and determination to win, even if they lacked the squad to do it, whipped the enthusiasm to fever pitch in the stadiums where the games were played. Despite being top career athletes at the national team level, the players were keen to prove themselves all over again in every match, fighting for their teams right up to the final whistle. It was endurance and stamina, not talent, that determined the victors in the matches that were played here back to back. In this tournament where every point means something and every defense gets talked about, players and fans alike rejoiced in the baskets. So fierce was the competition on the court that even we had trouble following when one player came into the game and another went out. But the best part was that these professional players seemed to love being here simply to serve their countries with absolutely no thought of material gain.

ONE SPORT FOUR CITIES
The matches were played in four different cities. Fans were able to watch them in comfort in the special basketball venues created for guests in each city where the different games were played. A virtual carnival atmosphere reigned in the city’s streets as people from every national group proudly represented their country, sporting their team’s uniforms. Fans of winning country teams consoled fans of losing teams and wished them luck in the rest of the tournament. And of the basketball talk was of course never ending. What is it here? This country never gets tired of basketball!  And how splendid the colors of all the other countries look against its lovely green.

THE PRIDE OF THE TURKS IN EUROPE
Sponsors too are a principal factor in the level of success of tournaments. Turkish Airlines in particular has now become basketball’s essential driving force following the investments it has made in the sport worldwide. And seeing a Turkish brand at the basketball summit makes Turks in Europe even prouder.
With so many candidates for champion, there was no single favorite at this tournament. Spain, Greece, France, Serbia, Turkey, Lithuania, Slovenia and Macedonia were all tipped in turn to be champion by the pundits. France may have been the tournament champion, but Slovenia was the true hero.