|Smiles all around during the theory session but, make no mistake, Richard Stokes submitted the referee candidates through some tough tests in Sibenik|
For most of the candidates that attended the Candidate Clinic for FIBA Referees in Sibenik, Croatia last week, this was but the first step.
Out of the 35 candidates that were present 31 will progress to the next stage in Mannheim, Germany next year.
The Clinic was held in conjunction with the Croatian Junior Championship Final Round and the referees were put through their paces right up until their last night in Sibenik, on Friday.
Even though the tournament continued over the weekend, Richard Stokes of the FIBA Europe Referee Department was satisfied that the referees had a good opportunity to show their quality over the first three days of games.
"Some of the players here, although U18, are already training and playing with their senior teams in Zagreb and Zadar, as well as a number of clubs in the rest of Croatia," Stokes said.
|Miguel Betancor during a lecture at the Candidate Clinic for FIBA Referees in Sibenik|
Players that took to the court at the Sibenik tournament included rising stars like Dario Saric, the U16 European Championship MVP in 2010.
Stokes considers the high level of competition tremendously beneficial to the referee candidates.
"It's great that the referees can see some of the best players in Europe here, it challenges them to give their best because the players' commitment demands it," he explained.
The next stage in Mannheim will take place in conjunction with the prestigious Albert Schweitzer Tournament, which is held every two years in the German city and often serves as an official World Championship warm-up.
"There's no doubt that this will be a tough test for the candidates next year, with some of the best teams in the world attending, the competition is normally tough and the coaches are equally demanding," Stokes commented.
"But as we found in 2010, it's an excellent testing ground and allows us to find out much more about the strengths and weaknesses of the referee candidates.
"We are really very grateful to the German Federation for allowing us to participate in this top level event, once again."