FIBA Europe Celebrates 10th Birthday

20 May 2012

A very special to European basketball anniversary culminated with a fittingly spectacular fireworks display that illuminated the night sky over Ljubljana on Saturday.

FIBA Europe celebrated its tenth birthday in the Slovenian capital, the city that will host the EuroBasket 2013 final.

For residents and visitors to Ljubljana, the entire weekend was a celebration of European basketball.

Six FIBA Europe 3on3 courts were assembled in the city's main square, giving the opportunity to more than 13,000 people to get involved either as players or participants in side events, or simply as spectators.

FIBA Europe 10th Anniversary Official Dinner
A spectacular fireworks display lit the Ljubljana night sky as part of the celebrations for the 10th Anniversary of the creation of FIBA Europe


The FIBA Europe Board convened in Ljubljana on Friday, while the General Assembly took place on Saturday.

Later that evening, it was time for the celebrations to begin.

Delegations of 48 of the 51 member federations, FIBA President Yvan Mainini and a host of Slovene dignitaries attended the official dinner at Ljubljanski Grad (Ljubljana Castle), which overlooks the city.

FIBA Europe President Olafur Rafnsson, gave the signal for celebrations to commence by welcoming all the distinguished guests.

Mr Rafnsson begun by acknowledging the important role that former Secretary General Nar Zanolin had played in creating FIBA Europe and contributing to its unprecedented rise among the most important federations in the world of sport.

FIBA Europe President Olafur Rafnsson presents Honorary President George Vassilakopoulos with award at the FIBA Europe 10th Anniversary official dinner
FIBA Europe President Olafur Rafnsson presents Honorary President George Vassilakopoulos with his award


Then it was time to present those who join the FIBA Europe family as Honorary Members in 2012 with their awards.

Dan Kesten, who passed away in 2003, served FIBA Europe as a Board member. One of his last contributions was assisting in founding the FIBA Europe league in 2003, which still lives on as the EuroChallenge.

Israeli Federation President Avner Kopel received the award in his name.

Mr Rafnsson then presented the widow and daughter of Peter Klingbiel with the award in the memory of this great basketball personality, who had served basketball as a player, a coach, a referee and as the Secretary General of the German Federation before passing away in 2008.

Valery Kuzin, who passed away in 2006 at the age of 42, was an active FIBA Europe Vice-President and an honorary president of the Russian Basketball Federation as well as a Vice-President of the Russian Olympic Committee. His widow and his two young sons received the award in his memory.

Last but not least was Noah Klieger, who has covered an unbelievable 28 EuroBaskets as a journalist, with his first coming in 1951.

FIBA Europe 10th Anniversary Official Dinner
Delegations from 48 member federations and a host of sports organisations dignitaries attended the FIBA Europe 10th Anniversary Official Dinner


Klieger, who has been the president of the FIBA media council and is still the chairman of the International Sports Writers Association in Israel, assured everyone that he will return to Ljubljana next year, to cover one more EuroBasket, and laughingly assured everyone that he didn't intend for it to be his last.

Following the honorary members awards, it was time for the current FIBA Europe President to call his predecessor on the stage.

Mr Rafnsson presented George Vassilakopoulos, who became the first president of the European governing body in 2002 and was named Honorary President during last year's General Assembly, with an award for his lifetime achievement.

Vassilakopoulos, whose remarkable contribution to Greek and European basketball from various posts spans over several decades, referred to the creation of FIBA Europe as one of the most important moments in his career.

The FIBA Europe Honorary President used his speech to make an appeal for unity and collaboration among everyone involved in European basketball and stressed the importance of these two concepts in the future of the sport.



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