Slovenia is the 2017 EuroBasket Champion, but it’s a really small country.
Slovenia has no much than 2 million habitants, which means that basketball wise, there’re less players to pick from, compared to larger countries!
How did a country with so less people, only independent since 1991 and a member of FIBA since 1992 managed to become a EuroBasket Champion?
Well, a big significant part of the answer relies on the Slovenian Basketball Federation youth program.
This program has as his center stone an important connection between schools and the Basketball clubs.
Slovenia presents us with two types of Basketball, the mass Basketball and the Elite Basketball.
The mass Basketball is the one taught and played in schools. Everything starts in the physical education classes where the basics of the sport are introduced to the little children. From there, the kids who like Basketball are invited to join the school team where they’re able to compete against other school teams in tournaments.
The next step is the Elite Basketball, the continuation of the work developed in the schools. This type of Basketball is trained and played in the Clubs.
In the clubs the Basketball raises to another level.
In the Elite Basketball the priorities of the clubs and coaches is too play quality Basketball and see selected to the regional and national teams their players.
This model is only possible with a really good communication between the school teams and the clubs, which is why it is common to see coaches form the clubs helping and dedicating hours to the school teams.
This Youth program has already seen some really good results, such as a number of players representing Slovenia in the National Basketball Association (NBA) and in some of Europe major Basketball leagues…
Radoslav Nesterovic (Italy, NBA Minnesota Timberwolves), Marko Milic (NBA Phoenix Suns, Spain, Italy), Primoz Brezec (NBA Indiana Pacers), Bostjan Nachbar (Italy, NBA Houston Rockets), Boris Gorenc (France, Italy), Marko Tusek (Italy), Jaka Lakovic (Greece), Matjaz Smodis (Italy), Sani Becirovic (Italy), Beno Udrih (Israel), Erazem Lorbek (Michigan State University), Aleksander Vujacic (Italy).
…And of course, a FIBA EuroBasket title!