Saturday we played the final games of the CEESA basketball tourney at “Basketland” which is a wonderful basketball/steel factory facility. Above is one of the two gymnasiums on the basketland grounds. We took the tour of Basketland and between the two gymnasiums are the assembly lines and warehouses for making metal products like aluminum cans, silverware, etc. This combination of factory and basketball training center is the vision of the owner of FMP (Fabrika Metahl Proizvoda), Nebojsa Covic.
When Covic bought the basketball club ILR Zeleznik in 1991, they had folded due to the increased cost of competing in the higher leagues in Serbia. They started out as a neighborhood (Zeleznik is a large suburb of Belgrade with about 20,000 inhabitants) team that played their games outdoors in the 1970′s. They eventually got better, but could not afford the costs of maintaining the team in a higher division.
Covic has made KK FMP into the third Belgrade basketball team after Red Star and Partizan. They do well in the NBL, or Adriatic Basketball Association. Note that the KK stands for kasorka (Serbian for basketball) klub. The strength of the club is its youth program. Covic has several basketball complexes in Zeleznik and they really develop great players. On Saturday, a group of 14 and 15 year olds were practicing in the other gym. One of them had to be close to 7 feet and was dunking with ease.
FMP is represents for me, Serbia’s serious approach to basketball. I can see why there are so many Serbs in the NBA and European leagues. They just play a lot and many of them are very tall. The neighborhood also has a lot of Communist era block apartments. This combination of beautiful basketball facilities surrounded by industrial and grey ugliness impresses me.
The Factory Grounds of "Basketland"
All of the CEESA teams had a fantastic final day at Basketland. With four games, it was an orgy of basketball and the great facilities. Thank you Mr. Covic.
Yesterday the boys’ high school basketball team traveled to the outer suburbs of Belgrade to play The First Basketball School of Belgrade. The game was played in the beautiful arena used by the FMP – Belgrade professional basketball club. We specialize in producing global citizens, they specialize in producing basketball players, so you can probably tell how the game turned out. Our student athletes played well and improved quite a bit as the game went on. We even had the support of the cheerleading squad and mascot and both teams appreciated their enthusiasm.
The Principal of the school gave Dr. Sands and I a tour of the facilities after the game. The First Basketball School is for boys ages 14 – 18. The students mostly come from Serbia but they also have international students. The boys want to focus on basketball and two practices per day are an integral part of the curriculum. They have several levels of teams and they play an NBA – type schedule of games. The school is affiliated with the FMP – Belgrade professional team. FMP plays in the NBL Adriatic Basketball Leage. FMP is a steel product factory that sponsors the team. Many of the students are boarding residents and the Principal showed us their rooms. Students from the school after graduation in 11th grade, often complete the final year of their high school in the USA or home countries. Several earned USA university scholarships and some go on to play professionally. Many with the FMP club or other Serbian professional club.
Lajos looks inside.
The Serbs know how to do sports and this is an example of it. They take sports to the highest level. Most Serbian youngsters specialize in a sport and they are provided with the best in coaching and time. It is the reason why such a small country has so many successes in sports. They have three players ranked in the top 10 tennis players in the world, the Partizan team is one of the best in Europe, and the national soccer team is leading their group in World Cup qualifying.
Their team was spectacular with height, speed, fundamentals, etc. Our team improved in the second half and raised their game. The team scored 1o more points in the second half than the first and reduced the number of turnovers by 6. It was a good lesson for them. The ISB cheerleaders also performed several dance routines during time outs and cheered on the team during the game.
Nikola Sets Up the Next Play