|20 September 2010|
Referees are no different from players in that they dream of being a part of the big games of the most important tournaments and Finals day at the FIBA World Championship is as big as they come.
In Istanbul on September 12, Europe had three teams in the Semi-Finals with Lithuania beating Serbia in the bronze-medal game and Turkey falling to the United States in the contest for the world title.
Juan Carlos Arteaga of Spain and Luigi Lamonica refereed the gold-medal game and Greece's Christos Christodoulou worked in the clash for the bronze.
"I have refereed many games in my career but without a doubt, to referee the Final of the FIBA World Championship is one of the most important moments of my career," Arteaga said to Basketball World News.
"It's the biggest basketball event, more so than the Olympics.
"At the Olympics, you have other sports and there are less basketball teams involved in the competitions.
"The World Championship is the top event in basketball so it makes it all the more special."
Lamonica was equally thrilled to take part in the Final.
"When I began refereeing, I never imagined in my mind that I would get to this point," Lamonica said to Basketball World News.
"To have refereed in the Final of the FIBA World Championship is a dream come true for any referee and for me it was the highest point of my career."
The presence of the three referees from the old continent in games with medals at stake speaks to the quality of officiating in Europe.
All work at high-level games in the domestic competitions of their respective countries.
They also received excellent training, which includes constant reviews of their work during events like EuroBaskets.
"I do believe the fact that there were three Europeans in the Finals is a reward for the good work carried out in refereeing in Europe over the past few years," Arteaga said.
"The development of referees has been enriched in recent years.
"There is new technology available, psychologists, fitness instructors involved and this is the reward."
Lamonica agreed with his colleague.
"European refereeing has always been considered of a high level and in recent years it has improved even more," he said.
"This is down to the work and investment placed by organizations and people involved that have made this possible and now we reap the rewards."
The quality of refereeing is so high on the continent that it's not unusual to see the referees in clashes for medals, no matter what the event.
"Each time there is a Final, you have European referees involved as was the case at the final of the Beijing Olympics where you had two European referees," Lamonica said.
When asked what he would remember most from working the Final, Arteaga didn't hesitate.
"The best memory that I take with me from the Final was when I entered the dining room after the game and all of my colleagues applauded me," he said.
"That makes me very proud."
For Lamonica, it was something different.
"My best memory of the Final is the 24 hours prior to the game," he said, "all the emotions that run through your head the day before.
"When I received the news, I remembered all the people that have helped me arrive to this point."
Lamonica and Arteaga refereed the Final with Brazil's Cristiano Jesus Maranho and Christodoulou did the bronze-medal clash with Jorge Vazquez of Puerto Rico and Anthony Dewayne Jordan of the United States.