Over the past few weeks in europe, I managed to play ball in Sweden, Macedonia and Serbia (couldn't find a court in Germany).
There were not many ballers amongst the swedes in Varberg (everyones into football instead). There was one NBA prospect dude (Christian Maraker
) at the Varberg stadium I balled at but he was in-between pro contracts and wouldn't play.
On to Bitola in Southern Macedonia where there were plenty of entheusiastic players at the outdoor court (which had stadium seating!). I bumped into a fellow aussie baller that I happened to know by reputation - Andre from MSF
was visiting at the same time which was great because I'm a big fan of his work.
Next stop, Belgrade - home of many famous ballers and the winners of the 1980 olympics and world champions in 1970, 1978, 1990, 1998 & 2002 (think Stojavic, Milicic, Pavlovic and of course the famous chain-smoking Vlade Divac).
Belgrade had a fascinating professional club (Red Star) that was running junior training sessions all day, every day right in the middle of the city's biggest tourist attraction - the Kalemegdan fortress
. Most of the kids I watched were between 13-16 and the coaching was all taken very seriously (however a couple of college-bound older kids confided in me that serbian basketball has gone down the toilet over the past few years and that the current crop of coaches are all corrupt and inexperienced).
I got some pretty reasonable standard pickup games on the And-1 courts at this fortress highlighted by some dubious foul calls (Chopper would say, Harden up Belgrade!
I'm pretty bummed the euro-league was in the off season because the atmosphere at those games must be sensational (i've heard stories of fans throwing metal coins onto the floor during the game when they get upset).
Overall, style-wise the europeans didn't seem to attack the basket a lot and seemed to settle for jumpers which contrasts a lot from the american game which is probably more slashing & attacking. It was good to see basketball being taken very seriously by some but it was clear that football is the number one sport in Europe.
Varberg (Sweden) Streetball Information:Belgrade Fortress Courts:
Court Location: (to come)
Courts: 2 (indoor)
Runs: You better ask someone there to try and organize one - good luck because most ballers from Varberg leave for the states at an early ageBitola (Macedonia) Streetball Information:
Court Location: next to the park, near the bus station
Runs: 6pm onwards every night (during summer I assume)Belgrade (Serbia) Streetball Information:
Court Location: Kalemegdan Fortress
Courts: 2 (half-courts labelled And 1 - the full courts can also be hired for ~1,000 denari per hour)
Runs: Late Afternoon