|FIBA Sports Director Lubomir Kotleba has only words of praise for teams and referees at EuroBasket 2011|
All the EuroBasket 2011 protagonists on the court -the teams and the officials- deserve full marks for their performances so far in the tournament, according to Lubomir Kotleba.
The FIBA Sports Director, whose involvement with basketball has been long and well-documented, visited with fibaeurope.com to offer his view of EuroBasket 2011.
Q: How would you comment on the level of basketball played at EuroBasket 2011?
A: "This has been one of the best [EuroBaskets] ever. The teams have been very equal. Some who you'd expect they go far but didn't and others who you didn't expect them to shine and they did not. But it is true that the level in European basketball has, traditionally, been very high. From the days of the former Soviet Union and Yugoslavia to the present day the European teams have been very strong."
Q: What is the reason for that?
A: "European teams are helped by the fact they get to participate in tournaments on a regular basis. Also, as the distances are relatively small in the continent, they get to travel to play friendly games in other countries too. By playing more games they get a chance to develop their game. The existence of strong national leagues also helps..."
Q: Does the European Youth development system help?
A: "I do not want to say that every single player in this tournament is a product of the Youth development or of the FIBA Europe Youth Competitions, but the FIBA Europe Youth Championships that take place every year have certainly contributed to European basketball remaining strong."
Q: Does it come as a surprise to you the results here of non-traditional basketball nations like F.Y.R. of Macedonia or Finland for example?
A: "Well, yes to a certain extent but we are not talking about countries where basketball was never known. Rabotnicki Skopje for example used to be one of the leading clubs in former Yugoslavia and European basketball in the past. Most European countries have some kind of basketball tradition and if they have good support from the government or institutions then they can bring a certain number of good players and achieve results."
Q: Last but not least, how would you comment on the officiating in this tournament?
A: "I'm simply impressed. I'm impressed with the quality of the calls. I'm also pleased with the coaches and the players; because if they are not willing to contribute to the quality of the game, through officiating then we can never achieve that. [The players and coaches here] are ready to accept even the questionable calls because they know the officials are fair and they are doing an excellent job. If all sides trust each other, then the players are not under stress that there will be a never-ending attack by the referees."