Federation Focus: Latvia

24 September 2012

10 YEARS FIBA EUROPE

The Latvian Basketball Federation (Latvijas Basketbola Savieniba/LBS) was founded on 26 November 1923, almost three years after the first basketball games were played in Latvia. The first teams consisted of students and pupils, who were trained by coaches from the American YMCA (Young Men's Christian Association). The biggest associations established their teams within few years. The first men's basketball championship was held in winter 1924, while the first women's championship was organised in 1933.

The game between Estonia and Latvia (16-20) on 29 April 1924 was, most probably, the first national team game in Europe. Thereafter international basketball games were organised on a regular basis. Initially, Latvia played against their neighbour countries Lithuania and Estonia, but in the beginning of the 1930's the team also started participating in tournaments in Western Europe as well as worldwide student games.

On 18 June 1932, Jazeps Sadeiko, representative of the Latvian Basketball Federation signed the founding act of the Fédération Internationale de Basketball Amateur, FIBA, in Geneva. Switzerland, Czechoslovakia, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Romania and Argentina were the other seven countries to sign the document.

Foundation of FIBA, 18 June 1932
Latvia was one of eight countries to sign the founding act of FIBA on 18 June 1932.

The Latvian national team took centre stage at the first ever European Championship for Men in 1935, winning all three games in Geneva, 46-12 against Hungary, 28-19 over Switzerland and 24-18 in the Final against Spain, to clinch the gold medal. The first European champions were Eduards Andersons, Aleksejs Anufrijevs, Mārtiņš Grundmanis, Herberts Gubiņš, Rūdolfs Jurciņš, Jānis Lidmanis, Visvaldis Melderis and Džems Raudziņš. The team was coached by Valdemārs Baumanis.

Latvia's men participated at their only Olympic basketball tournament in 1936 in Berlin, finishing with a 1-2 record. The following year, the Latvians hosted the second edition of the European Championship for Men, with the games being staged at the new and modern Sport House in capital Riga. The home team claimed sixth place. In 1939, the team got back on the winning track, taking the silver medal at the European Championship for Men. Meanwhile, the women's national team played their first game in 1938.

After the Second World War Latvia was incorporated in the Soviet Union, with Latvian basketball being integrated in the Soviet sport system and the best Latvian basketball players competing for the USSR national team. Basketball retained its popularity in the country. In the 1950's ASK Riga, coached by legendary Aleksandr Gomelsky, became the best club in the Soviet Union and also in Europe, winning the first three editions of the European Cup for Men's Champions Clubs from 1958 to 1960. The star players of the team, Maigonis Valdmanis, Jānis Krūmiņš and Valdis Muižnieks, played on the Soviet national team for many years, being crowned three times European Champions and winning three Olympic silver medals.

In 1960, ASK was not the only team from Riga to take the European crown. TTT Riga clinched their first title in the European Cup for Women's Champion Clubs, turning Riga into the capital city of European basketball. It was the first of 18 titles won in Europe's top competition between 1960 and 1982. The team became national champions 21 times and their unique success story concluded with the Ronchetti Cup title in 1987. A total of 65 players contributed to the success in these 27 years. The best players were chosen in the USSR national team. Skaidrīte Smildiņa-Budovska won three gold medals at World Championships and five gold medals at European Championships, while phenomenal center Uļjana Semjonova was crowned two-time Olympic champion, three-time World champion and ten-time European champion.

TT Riga center Uljana Semjonova is presented with the 1969 European Cup for Womens Champions clubs trophy by former FIBA President Robert Busnel. Riga defeated German side SC Chemie for the title, their 6th in a row.
TTT Riga center Uljana Semjonova is presented with the 1969 European Cup for Women's Champions Clubs trophy by former FIBA President Robert Busnel. Riga defeated German side SC Chemie for the title, their sixth in a row.

After Latvia regained independence, the Latvian Basketball Federation was re-affiliated with FIBA in September 1991. Ever since, Latvia's men's senior national team played in eight EuroBasket Final Rounds, the best result being eighth place in 2001, while the women's senior national team competed in five EuroBasket Women Final Rounds. The women also took part in the 2008 Olympic basketball tournament. The youth national teams have clinched five bronze medals. On club level, Barons LMT won the EuroCup in 2008, defeating Dexia Mons-Hainaut in the title game.

In recent years, several universal sports halls were built in Latvia, offering the facilities for high level basketball competitions. Since 2007, Latvia successfully hosted international basketball events every summer, including EuroBasket Women 2009 and the U19 World Championship in 2011. The Federation does its best to maintain and increase the popularity of the sport in the country. Approximately 5,000 children and teenagers play in different basketball competitions, thousands of enthusiastic basketball players compete in various regional amateur divisions.

 

STATS & FACTS

Date of foundation: 26 November 1923
President: Valdis Voins
Secretary General: Edgars Sneps
Homepage: www.basket.lv

Registered players:
- U18 Men: 3,490
- U18 Women: 1,485
- Senior Men: 685
- Senior Women: 115
Non-registered players:
- Men: approximately 2,000
- Women: approximately 450
Registered clubs: 115
Registered coaches: 320

 

NATIONAL TEAM ACHIEVEMENTS

1935 European Championship for Men in Geneva (Switzerland): 1st place
1939 European Championship for Men in Kaunas (Lithuania): 2nd place
1998 European Championship for Junior Men in Varna (Bulgaria): 4th place
1999 European Championship for Cadets in Polzela, Celje, Lasko (Slovenia): 5th place
2001 European Championship for Cadettes in Veliko Tarnovo (Bulgaria): 5th place
2002 European Championship for Young Women in Zagreb (Croatia): 4th place
2005 U20 European Championship Women in Brno (Czech Republic): 3rd place
2007 EuroBasket Women in Chieti (Italy): 4th place
2007 U18 European Championship Men in Madrid (Spain): 3rd place
2009 U20 European Championship Women in Gdynia (Poland): 3rd place
2010 U18 European Championship Men in Vilnius (Lithuania): 3rd place
2010 U20 European Championship Women in Liepaja (Latvia): 3rd place

Latvia win the bronze medal at the U20 European Championship Women in 2010
Hosting the U20 European Championship Women for the first time in 2010, Latvia took advantage of their home crowd to clinch the bronze medal after defeating France in the third-place game.

 


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