NICOSIA, 18 May 2009 - Going back to the
first Games of the Small States of Europe, back in 1985
in San Marino, everyone remembers basketball as the
sport with the most exciting moments. It was the only
team sport and the most competitive, as Cyprus
(athletics) and Iceland (swimming) ruled all the other
Strangely and unexpectedly, San Marino
(the hosts), Iceland and Monaco did not participate in
the tournament. Still, there was intense competition and
high-level games between the four participant teams,
Andorra, Cyprus, Luxemburg and Malta. Attendance was
also very impressive (all arenas were full) and there
was also live television coverage.
No surprise, as San Marino is close to
Pesaro, a city with basketball tradition. Moreover, the
tournament was covered by Italian media, which praised
the level of the games and the teams. The Cypriot team,
winning the gold despite the fact it was the "shortest"
of the tournament, got some very good compliments from
the Italian media.
A round robin competition system was used
for the tournament, which meant that there were no
knock-out games, but everyone played against all others.
Competitiveness was so high, that if Andorra, for
example, had beaten Cyprus in its final game, it would
have won the gold. Cyprus won, though, which meant that
Andorra was out of the medals!
The success of basketball at the first
GSSE assisted in the sports’ establishment as one of the
most exciting during the years. After San Marino’s
Games, more teams began to participate in the basketball
tournaments, including Iceland, Monaco and San Marino.
As a result, both competition and interest for the sport
The results in 1985: Cyprus-Malta 91-83,
Andorra-Luxemburg 68-66, Cyprus-Luxemburg 73-71,
Malta-Andorra 71-66, Lugemburg-Malta 88-81,
Cyprus-Andorra 92-87. Cyprus won the gold medal,
Luxemburg won the silver and Malta won the bronze.
The first GSSE in 1985 are considered a
landmark in the history of basketball in Cyprus,
regarding primarily the National Team. Not only because
Cyprus achieved its first major international success,
but also because that gold medal gave an extra incentive
to basketball people (Federation, coaches, athletes) to
search for new achievements and set higher goals.
1985’s success, during a period of total
amateurishness and introversion for the sport of
basketball, at least in National level, was the starting
point for everyone to see it a little differently. The
National team began to be treated and appreciated much
better than before, as now there was a strong incentive,
being the best at least between the smaller countries.
Moreover, the tournament’s competitiveness created a
must, to apply a new, improved style of the whole
It is important to state that the Cyprus
Basketball Federation, despite member of FIBA since
1972, did not participate in a National teams’
competition before 1982 and the European Championship’s
preliminaries. Participation was typical, as there was
no chance for success. That was the reason both in 1982
and 1984, no “top class” players of Greek clubs (Kozakis
in Olympiacos, Stylianou in Aris, Mirallais in
Ilisiakos)were called to the National team. Let’s
With all those in mind, it is not an
exaggeration to state that Cyprus basketball benefited
from the gold medal in 1985, as the triumph (European
Championship) of 1987 did to Greece. And in the end, for
that we must congratulate and credit those 11 pioneers,
the ten players and coach Takis Lyras.