Sunday night I attended the Adriatic Basketball Association basketball game between Red Star Belgrade and Cedevita from Zagreb. Red Star won easily 90-65 in front of full Pionir Hall. The Red Star basketball fans are not as passionate as the Partizan fans are, but they did get pretty loud in their appreciation of the home team’s stellar performance.
The Adriatic Basketball Association (ABA) is really good and hopefully the future of sports, as culture and economy as well for the former Yugoslav Republics. The professional basketball league has teams from Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Slovenija, and Hungary. The regional league is much better than the soccer leagues in the Balkans, as they are organized by individual country. Pulling teams from a bigger area provides more talent and better basketball. There is little problems with violence or nationalism. It is refreshing to see and I believe in the future, the Balkans and specifically the former Yugoslav Republics will have more cooperation as they have similar cultures, languages, and common needs.
The level of play as I wrote, is quite high. There are quite a few former NCAA (American University) players from Division One programs. These are players that spent some time in the NBA or the NBA development leagues, but were not quite good enough to make it with a team. Being from Michigan, I recognized former Michigan State University center, Goran Suton.
If you enjoy basketball, I encourage you to go and watch a game. Tickets for the best sections are only 700 RSD, a far cry from the professional sports ticket prices in the USA. It is also nice to see the resurgence of Red Star. They are 12-5 and in second place in the 14-team league.