FIBA Europe’s Year of Women’s Basketball officially ended with EuroBasket Women in Chieti in October, but someone forgot to tell the basketball fans in Slovakia.
Those fans turned out in huge numbers on Wednesday to watch Spartak Moscow Region play Kosit 2013 in Kosice.
The attendance was a record 7,120 for a EuroLeague Women game, surpassing the previous high of 5,500 at a game played in Pecs, Hungary, three years ago.
With the defending champions Spartak and their glittering array of talent coming to town, including Australia international Lauren Jackson and USA national team stars Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird, the Kosice fans had plenty of reasons to turn up.
There was also the small matter of their own team having played very well this season, too.
The President of the Slovak Basketball Association, Rudolf Petrovsky, was among those in attendance and he watched Spartak win 84-62.
“We certainly saw a quality game,” he said. “Spartak has a team which is one of the best in Europe and the world.
“The home team prepared well and showed a good performance as well. The starting five of Spartak is probably the best starters in Europe and I have to say it is a big pity Kosice did not win the first game against this opponent in the Moscow Region.”
Spartak scraped a two-point win on that occasion.
||We broke a record in attendance thanks to a big interest of people in basketball in Kosice.
Because of interest in this game, the decision was made to move the contest to the Steel Arena to cope with more fans. The capacity for Kosit’s home venue is only 3,000.
“There is no question about the decision of representatives of Kosit to play this game in the Steel Arena,” Petrovsky said.
"(Ice-hockey hall) was good. It was a great celebration and advertisement for basketball.
“Something like this has never happend in Slovakia or in Europe, so I am very happy and congratulations to the organisers.
“We broke a record in attendance thanks to a big interest of people in basketball in Kosice – it is something special for sure."
The huge attendance did not make Kosit flinch. They didn’t win, but made Spartak work hard.
“I have to say, I was nervous myself,” Petrovsky said. “Kosice is a club which represents Slovak basketball in European Cups and the Slovak Basketball Association has a big interest in their good results because it is very good promotion for us.
“It was an interesting game from another point of view as well because there is a Slovak coach on the bench of Spartak – Natalia Hejkova – who was a coach of the Slovak National Team once.”
“The coach of Kosice – Vladimir Karnay – is a coach of national team now. I am happy we have such a good coaches in Slovakia because it is another good advertisement for Slovak basketball.”