This year in the beginning of September had been group matches of Eurobasket 2021/2022 in Tbilisi, Milan, Köln and Prague. This matches were going to start last year but due to pandemic, FIBA decided to hold in September 2022. In each Eurobasket’s group were 6-6 teams but Tbilisi group there were Spain, Turkïye, Montenegro, Georgia, Belgium and Bulgary’s teams. The final stage which took place in Berlin had reached 4-4 teams from each group. The champion of Eurobasket 2022 became Spain. On the second place was France, third — Germany, fourth – Poland.
The matches in Tbilisi took place in a “New Sport’s Palace” (capable of 10 000 spectators), it’s building started in 2019 and finished in June of 2022.
Estimating the events which were organised during the Eurobasket both the guests and the local managers especially had indicated that there is a first time that the European basketball championship since independence of Georgia.
And it is true! However 1965 in Tbilisi were matches of Eurobasket’s groups with Moscow. But nor in Kyiv, nor in Riga, nor in St. Peterbutg (Leningrad – in those days) but in Tbilisi (consider, Georgia since 1922-1990 was one of the republic of Soviet Union, after 1921 when our country was occupied by Soviet Russia).
I researched the newspapers 1965 (“Lelo”, “Zaria Vostoka” and “Sovetski Sport”), I had a conversations with veteran basketball players and referees, I studied in details Eurobasket 65’ Tbilisi group.
Why was chosen Tbilisi for Eurobasket 1965?
Here are some reasons why this event occured in the capital city of Georgia:
- Georgia had it’s important traditions and progress in basketball back then. Also Tbilisi “Dinamo” had perfect results in 1950-1960 years not only in the championship of USSR, but also in winning a cup of Europe championship in 1962 (georgians won against “Real” Madrid 90:83 in Geneva), however in 1960 “Dinamo” Tbilisi was a finalist of the same tournament.
- Tbilisi Sport’s Palace was one of the amazing and unique in that time’s (1961) architecture. It was always a fascinating for all the people to see this kind of building. Sport’s Palace’s capacity officially was 11 000 people, but it was capable of 13 000 people.
- Tbilisi Sport’s Palace was always full. And because of this reason it had been often the most crowded place not only in USSR, but also in East Europe.
Nikolai Semashko (1907-1976), who was born and bring up in Ukraine and who was the chairman of the Basketball’s Federation in USSR in those days, said it wasn’t a coincidence that Tbilisi was chosen for this event in 1965. “Georgia had the biggest traditions in basketball, Georgian players were always worthy to play in the name of USSR on the international tournaments”, said Semashko who was vice-president of FIBA in 1960-1976. In Eurobasket 1965 in Tbilisi group were playing Yugoslavia, Poland, Greece, Bulgary, Spain, France, Sweden(these name of group’s were listed in order of occupied places), in the second group(it was held in Moscow) were playing USSR, Italy, Czehoslovakia, Israel, Finland, Democratic Republic of Germany, Romania and Hungary. From each group in semi-finale were 2-2 groups, Yugoslavia, Poland, USSR and Italy.
William Jones: It’s a pleasure that Eurobasket 1965 was held in Tbilisi
In 29 May of 1965 one day before the beginning of this event, on the presconference a general secretar of FIBA William Jones (1906-1981) said: “Before this day Eurobasket was held in only one city. Now FIBA decided that Eurobasket 1965 would be in two different cities and Tbilisi was in one of them”. Many coach and player, who were had been in Tbilisi, said that it was pleasure for them to be in this city whit Georgian people. And also I was full with pleasure while being in Tbilisi, where were playing masters of basketball like Otar Korkia, Nodar Jorjikia, Guram Minashvili and Vladimer Ugrekhelidze.
In 30 May of 1965 in his speech on Open Ceremony W. Jones (a general secretar of FIBA 1932-1976) again underlined a new idea – “To hold Eurobasket in two different towns” (Tbilisi and Moscow). Citizen of Great Britain Mr. Jones repeatedly said It was important thing and he was hoping that “This kind of experience would be more successful for the next time”. After finishing Eurobasket 1965 in Tbilisi, Jones said that situation was perfect — organising of championship, flawless place of basketball, emotional and objective spectators.
Nodar Korkia and Murman Kuridze about Eurobasket 1965:
International sport master, Tbilisi “Dinamo”’s, Georgia’s national team’s and USSR’s youth team’s ex-player Nodar Korkia who became 13 year-old in a period of eurobasket events, remembers this event with good memories.
“In 1965 spring my friends and I were looking forward for Eurobasket. Before starting Eurobasket we were gifted with tickets and with these, we were very happy, because we could be on matches. My friends and I were so interested in Yugoslavia’s strong team, because back then there were playing one of the most successful people like Radivoj Korac and Ivo Daneu. I remember Eurobasket 1965 with very fascinating and fantastic memories. It was a big triumph”- said 70 year-old Nodar Korkia who is a son of legendary Georgian basketball player Otar Korkia.
A FIBA referee since 1977 Murman Kuridze was only twenty years old in 1965 and he already was a beginner referee of basketball . He remembers: “I started refereing at the very young age, however, they wouldn’t trust a young referee lead the matches of Eurobasket like me. It absolutely clear that Eurobasket referees were the well skilled and top class arbitres, one of them was georgian Vakhtang Japaridze (1923-1978) – a FIBA referee since 1952. The end of May, Tbilisi and the whole Georgia was waiting for Eurobasket 1965. Many people were asking me for tickets, because it wasn’t an easy thing to had tickets of this important event. And I was helping them as I could. I was also at Yugoslavia’s training to give a closer look at Korac and Daneu”.
It should be indicate that during Eurobasket 1965 in Tbilisi the wellknown painter, sculptor and caricaturist Gigla Pirtskhalava (1922-1983) presented special gift to spain basketballer Emiliano Rodriguez (see the picture).
The author of this lines on Eurobasket 1965 had not completed 6 year-old. My father biggest fun of sport Bochia Pachkoria (1936-1993) went from Sokhumi to Tbilisi especially to watch Eurobasket, then he went to Moscow final stage. In semi-final game USSR won Poland (75:61), in final game USSR beat Yugoslavia (59:48). In Eurobasket 1965’s bronze prize-winner became Poland, which beat Italy (86:70).
For USSR’s team became a champion of Eurobasket 1965 were playing Tbilisi “Dinamo”’s remarkable players like Zurab Sakandelidze(1945-2004) and Amiran Skhiereli(1941-2019).
Tengiz Pachkoria, Honored Journalist of Georgia, AIPS member
1. Gigla Pirtskhalava had presented special gift to Emiliano Rodriguez (The photo from an archive Demiko Loladze the publicist)
2. 1965, Tbilisi, Bulgaria-Sweden (Newspaper “Lelo”)
3. 1965, Tbilisi, Cartoons (Newspaper “Zaria Vostoka”)
4. 1965, Tbilisi, Poland on training (Newspaper “Zaria Vostoka”)
5. 1965, Tbilisi, Poland – Sweden (Newspaper “Lelo”)