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Latest update: 08/06/2009 18:18 +0300

Basketball '85: The Big Chill

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 sports.

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 were increased.

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 “system’s” operation.

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.  Lets not forget, the teams budget was zero

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.

PH/MH

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