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EuroStars 1996 - Istanbul

European All-Star games had been a regular fixture in the FIBA calendar since the first game took place in 1964 in Madrid, Spain in 1964.

However, since a game that saw the Europeans take on the USA in 1982, the event had not been repeated. It was in 1997 that the idea was resurrected and took the name FIBA EuroStars. The first game was hosted in Istanbul, Turkey. 

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Hometown favourite Ibrahim Kutluay
The return of the European All-Stars was a huge success and 14,000 fans packed into the Abdi Ipecki Arena in Istanbul to witness the game,  at the time the largest ever for a basketball match in Turkey (the number was exceeded during the 2001 European Championship). In addition, the game was broadcast live to 83 countries across the world.

For the first time ever the format of the game was East v. West and players were divided based on which club they played for in the 1996/1997 season. 12 players per team were selected and 20 of the 24 participants had to hold European passports to qualify.

Fans and media were enlisted to help select the players with 17 newspapers  and magazines across Europe running the poll.

A look back at the players reveals some names who are since retired and others at the time who were young stars. Zoran Savic, Sergei Bazarevich, David Rivers, Panagiotis Fassoulas, Delaney Rudd, Henning Harnisch and Walter Magnifico have since left their playing days behind. Conrad McRae, who thrilled fans across Europe with his high wire game tragically died in 2000 during an NBA Summer league game. While Zeljko Rebraca and Marko Milic represented the youthful side.

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All-Star MVP David Rivers
The calvacade of stars was only muted by the absence of any players from the Spanish ACB, who were refused permission to participate

The game itself went to the East All-Stars 117:114. Greek star, and current Dynamo Moscow player, Nikos Ekonomou led the East with 25 points. Zoran Savic led the West with 30 points while French star Yann Bonato added 19.

The MVP went to American star David Rivers while fellow countrymen Delaney Rudd defeated Vassili Karrasev in the final of the 3-point contest.