40 referees, eight commissioners and four instructors all gathered on Tuesday in Vilinus, the capital of Lithuania, home to just over 550,000 people, to conclude their preparations for EuroBasket 2011.
It seemed appropriate that this meeting should take place in such a well-preserved medieval setting, which in the past was once the ‘dwelling of rulers'.
As the 25th team, the referees set to be involved in this tournament have all come together to prepare for Europe's elite competition.
Responsible for maintaining the best interests of the game and making sure players adhere to the rules, being a referee is often times harder than being a player.
|Is this hand-checking? FIBA Europe Head of Operations Miguel Betancor makes a point about illegal defence at the EuroBasket 2011 referee meeting in Vilnius|
Basketball is often described as one of the most difficult sports to officiate and the referees prepare thoroughly ahead of any game.
These meetings have become a key component in preparing the referees as they are exposed to theoretical and practical situations.
Classroom sessions highlight the details in discerning how to apply the rules, while practical sessions were utilised to test their ability to make quick decisions in their application of those guidelines.
Physical and psychological preparation is also an integral part of their build-up to major tournaments.
Due to their importance FIBA Europe Head of Operations Miguel Betancor, Richard Stokes of the FIBA Europe Referee Department and FIBA Europe Referee Instructor Alan Richardson led the sessions.
Particular emphasis was put on teamwork, game management, communication and Three-Person mechanics, which optimizes their positioning on the court.
Commenting on the meeting, Alan Richardson felt it had been a very productive.
|FIBA Europe referee instructor Alan Richardson is extremely satisifed with the mix of veteran and younger referees at EuroBasket 2011|
"It was a good learning experience for all concerned. Staff, referees, commissioners and guests," Richardson commented.
"EuroBaskets have the, if not most of the best referees in Europe so the quality is much higher than at normal clinics. We're not really teaching them, we're simply coaching them."
Being European basketball's premier event the competition represents a high point in the career of most referees, but the FIBA Europe Referee Instructor is looking for one thing from those involved: "Consistency on and off the court."
However, he is confident that the blend of experience in the team that was chosen to officiate in Lithuania will serve them well throughout the tournament.
"I think we have a very good group. A mix of some long standing veterans and some up-and-coming youngsters."