Basketball in Belgium dates back to 1914, when on the initiative of American soldiers two basketball courts were built in Brussels. Nine years later the first basketball tournament was played in Belgium.
The Belgian Basketball Federation was founded in 1927, with six clubs participating in the first official championship. In 1933, the Federation became a FIBA member. It oversees the development and organisation of basketball in the country - from amateur levels to the national teams. On occasion of the 25th anniversary in 1952, the Federation was granted the title "Royal" by Baudouin, the King of Belgium. It is since called Fédération Royale Belge de Basketball (FRBB) / Koninklijke Belgische Basketball-Bond (KBBB).
|The staff members of the Belgian Basketball Federation.|
The Belgian men's senior national team made their first international appearance at the European Championship in 1935 and were one of 21 teams to participate at the first ever Olympic basketball tournament in 1936. Belgium clinched fourth place at the 1947 European Championship, the best result up to date. In 1977, the 20th edition of the European Championship was staged in Oostende and Liège, with the hosts finishing eighth overall. In the past decades, the men's senior national team has gone through ups and downs, as EuroBasket 2011 was the first Final Round Belgium took part in since 1993.
In recent years, women's basketball has brought joy to basketball fans in Belgium, with the national teams stepping up on international stage. The sixth place achieved at the 2003 European Championship for Women is the best in the history of the women's senior national team. Individually, Ann Wauters has been a standout for years, having first suited up for Belgium at the European Championship for Cadettes in 1995. The 1.95 m center established herself as one of the best players from the old continent, being elected five times European Player of the Year by Italian daily Gazetta dello Sport, in 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005 and 2008.
Last year, Belgium won their first ever gold medal, as the U18 women were crowned champions at the European Championship in Oradea, Romania. Led by Emma Meesseman's 25 points and nine rebounds, Belgium defeated France in the final, 77-49. Finishing the tournament as top scorer and top rebounder, the Belgian center was unanimously named MVP of the tournament. Meesseman's great performances in 2011 were capped by another individual award, as she was voted FIBA Europe Young Women's Player of the Year.
|Belgium are crowned champions at the 2011 U18 European Championship Women.|
In club competition, Racing Mechelen was the first Belgian side to reach a European final. In 1973, the club faced S.P. Birra Forst Cantú from Italy in the two-leg finals of the Korac Cup. Mechelen finished runners-up, losing 169-191 on aggregate. After a 35-year-long drought, it was Dexia Mons-Hainaut to represent Belgium in the title game of a European club competition again, playing Barons LMT Riga in the 2008 EuroCup final. The Belgians lost 62-63 in a thrilling final.
Belgium played host to several European finals, including the first Euroleague Final Four in 1988, which was organised in Gent. Last year, BC Oostende reached and hosted the EuroChallenge Final Four, finishing third after a 94-92 victory over Spartak Saint-Petersburg.
Basketball is enjoying great popularity in Belgium, as was proven once again this year. On 16 February, 14,000 fans were in attendance at the Antwerp Sportpaleis to see the second leg of the Belgian Cup Quarter-Finals between the Antwerp Giants and Spirou Charlerloi, setting a new record.
STATS & FACTS
Date of foundation: 20 March 1927
President: Cyriel Coomans
Secretary General: Paul De Coster
- U18 Men: 33,912
- U18 Women: 10,936
- Senior Men: 33,650
- Senior Women: 14,001
Registered clubs: 579
Registered coaches: 7,259
NATIONAL TEAM ACHIEVEMENTS
1947 European Championship for Men: 4th place
1995 European Championship for Cadettes: 3rd place
1996 European Championship for Junior Men: 4th place
2011 U16 European Championship Women: 2nd place
2009 U16 European Championship Women: 2nd place
2011 U18 European Championship Women: 1st place
2012 U16 European Championship Women: 4th place