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Bringing Swiss basketball to the next level (English version)

Bringing Swiss basketball to the next level (English version)
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The Swiss basketball league is very small, compared to other European basketball leagues, such as the Spanish one. The country took part in the first European Basketball Championships in 1935 finishing in fourth position and finished ninth the Olympic Games of 1936. Moreover, Switzerland has been one of the founding members of the FIBA (International Basketball Federation) in 1938. But despite this great debut, Switzerland hasn’t maintained that same high level of continuity. At this point it’s difficult to imagine any Swiss team able to compete on top level in Europe.

Despite this the Swiss basketball national team is trying to clinch a spot for the final stage of the 2021 European Championship. It would be sixth participation in their sixty years history. The next goal for the Swiss will be to win the next qualifying round against Macedonia in June: thereby, there is still a long way to go.

However in 3×3 basketball, there is a much more positive story. The Swiss national team is going through a more positive moment; in the last three editions of the FIBA 3×3 Europe Cup, they have finished in the Top Ten. Whereas in the FIBA’s Club competition, the team of Lausanne finished with a surprising second place in August last season. The winner of that competition, Abu Dhabi, Novi Sad Al-Wadha, clinched the spot for the World final in Beijing.

Where is the future of Switzerland in basketball and 3×3 basketball?

I spoke with Mauro Regazzoni, the technical director of the Swiss Italian Basketball Association.

How would you assess the level of Basketball in Switzerland?

In the youth categories the level of play is high, as well as the level of their coaching. But we have to consider that Basketball is a minor sport in Switzerland and many young players leave the game when their academic studies become more important. The result is a small quantity of Swiss players who can compete in the national league. The chance to see a Swiss guy competing in a top foreign league is small considering that our national leaguer is less demanding compared to first division leagues of other countries. To sum up, talent emerges from numbers and for this reason we can’t compare Switzerland with other countries such as Spain or Italy, where the population is much higher, as well as a longer and stronger tradition in basketball.

Why is Switzerland is becoming an outstanding country in 3×3 basketball?

That’s true, the Swiss national team is achieving good results in this newly-born discipline. But 5×5 and 3×3 basketball are two very different sports. There are similarities in the two, but the physical demands and the team organization differ significantly. In 3×3 basketball the effort is shorter but more intense. I think that the level of 3×3 basketball will improve a lot in all nations, it will not be easy for Switzerland to be among the best national teams in the World.

Advantages and disadvantages of 3×3 basketball?

3×3 basketball gives the opportunity to basketball players at the end of their careers to continue playing the game but through a physically less demanding format. Also I see 3×3 basketball as a positive for the youngsters. It’s a good way to bring them closer to basketball, as as I said we are poor in numbers of players who play the game overall. Also, 3×3 basketball is an exciting sport for the players and spectators as well.

Concerning the negative points, there is a problem in Switzerland in games scheduling in the élite category. The seasons of the basketball first division league and the FIBA 3×3 competition overlap each other; and since many players from the first division clubs want to compete also in 3×3 competitions, it creates difficulties for the coaches in player availability and seeing the possibility of injuries increase. We can’t compare the reality of Switzerland with other countries, who are able to count on specialized players who can dedicate themselves to only one of these two disciplines.

What should be the priority to promote Basketball in Switzerland?

We need to raise the national interest in the game so that basketball has the same degree of enthusiasm and interest as football, for example.

We should encourage the clubs, at all levels both professionals and amateurs, to focus on the youth categories to increase participation in the game.

We need to lift the level of female basketball participation back to that seen in previous decades. We are moving to create collaborations with squads in the German part of Switzerland where the level of female play is high.

In summary, the key to the growth of basketball in Switzerland is the motivation of young players to play the game firstly in 3×3 competitions, promote female basketball participation in the same format and better coordinate the competitive schedules of the first division regular and 3×3 FIBA clubs.

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