March Madness Hits Belgrade!

Coach Kralovec, originally uploaded by bill kralovec.

It is basketball madness for me as the boys’ high school team is on their final preparations for next week’s CEESA championship in Helsinki, Finland. I am shown above at Tuesday’s game at the FMP Arena in the Belgrade suburb of Zeleznik. It is an industrial area with lots of Communist Era apartments, but in the midst of the run down buildings is the basketball school and this beautiful basketball arena. Our school project manager went along to get ideas for our new gymnasium.

The team lost 37-81 to their sub-15 team. FMP has the best basketball club in Serbia and they compete in international tourneys for elite high schools in Europe. They are one of the best high school teams I have ever seen! Our students got to experience the best in the world and they held their own in the second half. The relentless pressure defense and attacking style of FMP forced our students to bring up their game. It was a great experience and on behalf of ISB, I thank the basketball school for inviting us to play twice this season! The opposition in Helsinki will pale in comparison and our team will be battle tested by the time we get there.

Pre-game photo of the teams
Pre-game photo of the teams

It is also the NCAA tourney and the team joined a pool. The students and coaches filled out their brackets like President Obama. All of the games are on live on ESPN America, My favorite, the Michigan State Spartans, won their opening game against Robert Morris. The University of Michigan also won their first NCAA tourney game in 11 years, upsetting Clemson. And finally, neighboring state Wisconsin also made it to the second round. I hope they make it to next weekend.

To top off the basketball frenzy, Belgrade professional team, Partizan starts their series with CSKA Moscow in the Euro League Quarterfinals. My favorite professional team Red Star, made it to the Final Four of the Adriatic Basketball League. It will be next month at the Belgrade Arena. Three Serbian teams (Red Star, Partizan, Hemofarm) will join Croatian Zibona for the games in the Belgrade Arena.

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