by Leandro Ginóbili, Fox Sports International

There is a basketball school which Argentinians much admire and which, beyond the political feuds it has been going through in the last twenty years, continues to be —with different names— the world’s reserve of junior basketball players.,

Let’s put aside, of course, the best ones —the U.S., which, because of organization, history, amount of inhabitants and an essential component, the Black race, becomes a constant factory of players that enrich the leagues of the planet, besides their own, obviously.

The school we will refer to is ex-Yugoslavia’s, a country that dominated the FIBA basketball from the 60s (two golds, four silvers and one bronze in Olympic Games and four golds, three silvers and two bronzes in World Cups) to the 90s, when it ceased to exist as a country to be divided into several of them, all of which continued to be extremely powerful in the basketball area.

Slavic originated players were often the priority when it came to strengthten the big European teams over the American ones before the Bossman Law. When these countries entered the European Common Market there was an invasion of ex-Yugoslavian players in the most important leagues in Europe (Spain, Italy, Greece and Russia).

Now, Slovenia, Serbia, Macedonia, Croatia, Bosnia and Montenegro compete as independent states against the interests of other countries, which saw their chances to reach high positions or to qualify for the world competitions dropping considerably. Such is the case with Italy, France and even Russia in the latest European championship.

Before, the fight was against one big power. Now, there are at least four of them, given the recent independence of Bosnia and Montenegro. Also, nobody should be surprised when, soon, both are fighting for a place in a World Cup or an Olympic Game.

Of the sixteen teams that took part in the latest European championship (qualifying had to be done), four —25%— were members of ex-Yugoslavia: Serbia, Slovenia, Croatia and Macedonia.

Three of those managed to qualify for Turkey’s World Cup in 2010. Three of the six available spots. Is it necessary to say anything else about the power of these countries?

We can claim that Spain and Argentina have impressive generations. However, in spite of having predominated in the last decade, they are still far from the almost fifty years of brilliant generations of the Slavic countries.

Excellent players such as Petrovic, Kukoc, Danilovic, Divac, Nesterovic and Dalipacic, just to name only a few of the contemporary ones, are a great example. These are players with the appropriate biotype to play basketball, and, added to it, a natural talent and an unusual skill to move with much ease in spite of their sizes.

Yugoslavians, amongst those of the White race, are the ones most similar to the Black race players, at least in the mentioned aspects.

At the last World Cup, which took place in Japan, I had the chance to talk with Serbian journalists. We talked about many interesting things; for instance, they told me that a scientific study done on a world level had come to the conclusion that the highest people in the planet are born in a 100 square-kilometres region between Croatia and Serbia. And boy do they take advantage of this.

The fact that a country that has suffered so many divisions and bloody wars has managed to stay in the highest sports places is really worth praising.

Just like the best soccer players come from Brazil, it’s not by chance that this region produces very talented players. It’s in their blood.

Leandro Ginobili


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