GENEVA/NEW YORK – MARCH 31 – Boston Celtics forward-guard Jiri Welsch (Czech Republic), Los Angeles Lakers forward Stanislav Medvedenko (Ukraine), Seattle SuperSonics forward-center Vitaly Potapenko (Ukraine) and former NBA center Gheorghe Muresan (Romania) will serve as coaches for Basketball without Borders Europe, which will take place July 24-27, 2004 in Treviso, Italy, it was announced today by FIBA and the NBA.
Since its inception in 2001, Basketball without Borders has served as a basketball instructional camp in Europe for young people designed to promote friendship, healthy living and education through sport. This year, Basketball without Borders will expand to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Johannesburg, South Africa.
“The NBA is committed to use the sport of basketball as an international language to promote global friendship and sportsmanship,” said NBA Commissioner David Stern. “Through Basketball without Borders, we bring together young people from all walks of life to create important dialogue and to teach them about important social issues such as HIV/AIDS education and prevention.”
"This will be the fourth time that this camp takes place, establishing the Basketball without Borders camp as one of the most complete camp experiences in Europe," said FIBA’s Development Manager Zoran Radovic. "It has always been a focus for FIBA to emphasize the importance of hard work, dedication, teamwork and fair play to all camp participants. At Basketball without Borders, we are grateful to have been able to benefit from the experience and knowledge of some of the most prominent professional basketball players, who have worked with past camp participants from 25 different European countries, and assist in providing them with a solid foundation in terms of basic fundamentals at the early phase of their basketball experience."
Basketball without Borders Europe will collaborate with UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund, for the second consecutive year to support education and HIV/AIDS prevention programs. The camp is sponsored by Champion, Nike, Spalding, and United Colors of Benetton, among others and co-organized by FIBA and the NBA. The three-day basketball camp also will feature 2003 NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs Assistant Coach P.J. Carlesimo, Golden State Warriors Special Assistant Chris Mullin, Memphis Grizzlies Assistant Coach and Director of Player Personnel Tony Barone Jr. and Detroit Pistons Assistant Coach Igor Kokoskov, who will participate in his third Basketball without Borders.
FIBA will select the 50 young players (age 16-17) from across Europe based on their basketball skills, leadership abilities and dedication to the sport of basketball. The NBA and FIBA also will donate products, such as basketballs, rims, and nets, to local basketball federations.
“Basketball's global appeal, particularly among young people is now becoming evident to everyone,” said Ralph E. Greene, Jr., Global Director, NIKE Basketball. “The excitement of the game as showcased in the NBA and enjoyed by millions worldwide will only continue to grow. NIKE has had a lead role in global basketball for years and is pleased to work with the NBA for Basketball without Borders to spread this excitement and give young European players the chance to play and improve.”
The pan-European participants will be divided into four teams (Celtics, Lakers, Mavericks and SuperSonics) without regard to their nationality. The young players and staff will be outfitted by Champion USA, the exclusive on-court apparel partner of the NBA in Europe, with footwear provided by NIKE. Each of the NBA players serving as coaches will be assigned to one of the camp teams and will work with the campers individually. Marin Sedlacek, a FIBA instructor who has conducted camps all over the world, will return for the fourth consecutive year as the camp’s Director.
In addition to basketball instruction and competition, the young players will share living quarters with their new teammates and participate in a seminar, led by UNICEF, intended to promote leadership, support education and raise awareness about HIV/AIDS education and prevention.
“The HIV/AIDS epidemic has orphaned 14 million children worldwide,” said Charles J. Lyons, president of the U.S Fund for UNICEF. “Through the Basketball without Borders program, the NBA, with the diversity of its players, has proven to be an effective partner in educating the global community regarding the awareness and prevention of HIV/AIDS.”
The basketball camp will return to La Ghirada in Treviso, Italy, the camp’s host in 2001 and 2003. Owned and operated by co-sponsor United Colors of Benetton, which owns the Treviso basketball team of the Italian league, La Ghirada is the team’s state-of-the-art basketball facility, one hour north of Venice.
“It is an honor for us to continue our cooperation with the NBA, UNICEF, NIKE and FIBA this year also,” said Benetton Group CEO Gilberto Benetton. “Basketball without Borders has proved to be an important event, bringing people from different nations together to speak just one language, the Language of Basketball”.
The inaugural Basketball without Borders took place in July 2001, with Vlade Divac of the Sacramento Kings, Toni Kukoc of the Milwaukee Bucks and five other NBA players from the former Yugoslavia uniting to work with 50 children from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, FYRO Macedonia, Slovenia and Serbia Montenegro. In July 2002, Basketball without Borders brought together 50 young Greek and Turkish players in Istanbul, Turkey and was led by the Sacramento Kings’ Hedo Turkoglu and Peja Stojakovic. In 2003, Basketball without Borders returned to La Ghirada in Treviso, Italy with NBA players: San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker (France), Memphis Grizzlies forward Pau Gasol (Spain), Utah Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko (Russia), Los Angeles Clippers forward Marko Jaric (Serbia and Montenegro), Houston Rockets forward Bostjan Nachbar (Slovenia) and Denver Nuggets forward Nikoloz Tskitishvili (Georgia).
“I am very excited to take part in Basketball without Borders Europe,” said Welsch. “I have heard what a great camp it is from other NBA players, who have taken part, and I look forward to meeting all the kids.”
“I look forward to teaching the European youth at the camp,” said Potapenko. “I hope they learn valuable lessons from me as I have learned from players before me.”
“This is a great basketball camp and it’s important to do what we can to contribute back to the community,” said Medvedenko. “HIV/AIDS prevention and education is an important message to teach young people.”
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