Family Journal: Tuesday December 23, 2008 Red Star Basketball

Tuesday night we attended the Red Star basketball game. You may have heard of Red Star’s soccer team. The professional clubs in Serbia as in Europe have teams in many sports. They also have the different levels, beginning with a youth team, moving through to the “A” professional team.

As I explained in a previous post, one of the leagues Red Star participates in is the Adriatic Basketball League, sponsored by the NBL bank. The Round 14 game was against FMP Belgrade. They are from the Belgrade suburb of Zelenik. Red Star is tied for second place in the league with a record of 11 wins and 2 losses. Partizan is in first place and fellow Serbian team, Hemofarm STADA is tied with them. FMP is in 8th place (out of 14) with a 5 and 8 record.

Most of the players on both teams were Serbian. The Serbs are a tall people and this was reflected in the rosters, as there were two 7 footers and many big men around that height. It was a high quality of play, although the players were not quite as athletic as the USA professionals. It was an evenly matched game as the Red Star’s lead fluctuated from 4 to 10 points most of the game.

The difference were the two American players on Red Star. Andre Owens from Indiana University and Lawrence Roberts from Mississippi State, and the Memphis Grizzlies gave Red Star and extra boost when they needed it. You can see Roberts behind Owen. My sister-in-law erased most of my photos and video I took so I don’t have a video post.

Sebey, Owen, and Papa Enjoy the Red Star Victory
Sebey, Owen, and Papa Enjoy the Red Star Victory

The arena is called Pionir Hall and seats 7,000 people. It is located near the center of the city and it was quite easy to find with our GPS. It was in good condition and we bought the best tickets for $20 each. Best thing is kids are free!!! We were a few rows up at mid court. It was mostly filled and the fans were enthusiastic and polite. Overall it was a great experience and we hope to go again. Red Star proved too much in the end and won their 12th game.

Owen and Sebey enjoyed the game. They loved the cheerleaders performing during time outs and the scoreboard. Owen learned what the 24 second shot clock was and how to keep score. I hope both the boys will play basketball as I did when I was younger. I need to put up hoops somewhere outside and inside the house.

We attended the game with Alejandra and Brad and it was an entertaining evening.

NLB – Adriatic Basketball League

The Adriatic Basketball League (NBL is a bank that is the league sponsor) is a regional league consisting of 14 teams from the countries of the ex-Yugoslavia. After the bitterness and violence of the seccesionist wars of the 1990’s, it is surprising this league exists. I guess it must be a testament to the power of sports to transcend these things.

All of the countries have their own regular professional leagues, and the NBL is a “Champions League” type of format. The 14 teams play each other home and away for a 28 game regular season. Serbia has 5 of the 14 teams. The two big sport clubs in Belgrade, Red Star and Partizan are represented along with FMP from the Belgrade suburb of Zelenik, Hemofarm, from the city of Vrsac near the Romanian border, and  Vojvodina “Serbia Gas” from Serbia’s second city of Novi Sad. Croatia has four teams, Slovenia three teams, and one each from Bosnia and Montenegro.

The league started in the 2001-2002 season and the number of teams has varied through the seven seasons. For one season, Israeli team Maccabi Tel Aviv was a member of the league. The champion of the first season was a team from Slovenia, and the second year was the Croatian team Zadar. The last 5 seasons, Serbian teams were crowned champions. Zelenik won twice, Hemofarm once, and the past two seasons the champion was Partizan, who also won the Serbian Soccer League last year.

This year they have played six games each and once again, Partizan is atop the league at 6-0. Red Star is second with a 5-1 record. The league starts in October and ends in April. Red Star American players are Andre Owens, the 6-4 guard from Indiana University played to brief seasons in the NBA and Lawrence Roberts, ex-Mississippi State star and Memphis Grizzly player. The 6-9 power forward played the last two seasons in the Greek league and is new to Red Star. Partizan features ex-UMass star Stephane Lasme, who played briefly with the Miami Heat.

I haven’t been to a game yet, but plan to. The league website is quite good.