By Milan Lazarevic
Welcome to Basketball Land!
Surely, one of the most interesting and strongest basketball competitions in this year will start on 31st July. Simply, this tournament will assemble all Continental Champions, except U.S.A.; but just few days after this competition (6th August) we will have opportunity to watch, on the same place, a match from the dreams: Serbia & Montenegro ? U.S.A.
What is Diamond Ball?
Diamond Ball was established in 1999 by FIBA Central Board on meeting in Munich. It was created on concept of Confederations Cup in soccer. Simply, FIBA officials thought that Basketball World needed this tournament, and decided to try with experiment first time in Hong Kong from 2nd to 6th September 2000. Hong Kong was chosen purposely, because, in that moment, Asia had huge potentials in players and financials. Also, officials thought that this tournament can attract attention of best teams because it was rear opportunity for teams to have the best possible opponents just before Olympic Games.
So, African Champion ? Angola, European Champion ? Italy, World Champion ? Yugoslavia, home team of Olympics ? Australia and representatives from North America ? Canada opened first Diamond Ball and wrote new page of basketball history.
We could watch then beautiful roles by Steve Nash, Bodiroga, Danilovic, Heal, Meneghin and co.
After so many dramas and excitements Australian team won in final duel against Yugoslavia 78:71. That was unforgivable night for them, moment of glory in their basketball history.
Now, teams come to Belgrade to write new pages. Australia ? Defender of the crown and Oceania Champions, Serbia & Montenegro ? World Champions, Lithuania ? European Champions, China ? Asian Champions, Angola ? African Champions, Argentina ? World vice Champions and North American representatives.
The best possible overture for Olympic Games!
First, Belgrade was proclaimed for host city of World Championship 1994. Town started with building new, glorious ARENA for this event. That was one of the most complicated projects in Europe, and unique sport building in that moment in Europe. Everyone knew here that was huge bite for organizers. But, everyone believed that dream could become true? to beat Dream team in Serbia? that was everyone?s dream?
But war was too big wall to jump over. Unfortunately, that was first time in last 60 years that basketball was not the most important thing for Balkan people? life was?
Belgrade officials stopped with building ARENA. Toronto got that World Championship. USA won title. Yugoslavia was disqualified.
Now, FIBA tries to return some of lost time. They gave this Diamond Ball and next European Championship to Belgrade. After 15 years ARENA will be for the first time a host place of some sport event. Believe or not, but while you reading this, people still work to enable this beauty to host almost 20 000 people.
Second, Belgrade is so close to Athens. Almost all teams will go directly to Greece after Diamond ball. That was important fact for making this decision.
And third, this is perfect chance for FIBA to check all Belgrade capacities before European Championship next year.
Welcome to ARENA!
Welcome to Belgrade!
Welcome to the land of World Champions!