Sport can be a great excuse to travel. And combining two of your favorite hobbies can be a one of the greatest pleasures of life. That´s why basketball fans and sports fans in general have the perfect excuse to visit and learn more about Ljubljana this September, since that is where Eurobasket, the European Basketball Championship held every two years, will be taking place.
What is Eurobasket
Twenty-four teams will compete to win this year’s trophy in the cities of Ljubljana, Koper, Celje and Jesenice from September 4 to 22, 2013. These 24 teams will be divided into four groups of six, and the top three in each group will advance to the second round. The second round will have two groups of six teams each, and the top four will go to the quarter-finals while the other two will play against the losers of the quarterfinals to qualify for the playoffs to achieve 5th to 8th place. The winners of the quarterfinals will advance to the semifinals, and the two winners go on to the championship’s final game. It takes place in Ljubljana’s Stožice Arena, a pavilion that holds 12,500 people, on September 22.
Spain, the favorites
Spain is currently favored to win the trophy. They were the winners of the last two European Championships in 2011 and 2009, against France and Serbia, respectively, and lost against Russia in 2007. They have a large numbers of players who are active in the NBA like Marc Gasol, Ricky Rubio and Jose Calderon and that gives them an advantage. There are also others who have experience in the American leagues such as Rudy Fernandez and Sergio Rodriguez, but will have to overcome the loss of Pau Gasol, Juan Carlos Navarro and Serge Ibaka.
In addition to Spain, other favorites include France, which boasts NBA players like Tony Parker, Nicolas Batum and Boris Diaw, and Greece. Both countries have great players and long basketball traditions. After these three favorites follow Lithuania and Russia, two countries with great players that had their last huge successes in past decades.
Ljubljana, a memorable city
For anyone who has not yet visited Ljubljana, the Eurobasket offers a perfect opportunity to do so. Ljubljana is among the European cities offering some of the most beautiful art nouveau architecture that can be found on the old continent. Its bridges, plazas and palaces make visiting the city a pleasure to explore culturally and to simply behold, and it is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful cities in Eastern Europe. Especially worth mentioning is the Triple Bridge, a bridge which is unique in Europe that features three roads and beautiful sculptures; the Dragon Bridge, a bridge with sculptures of watchful dragons that is full of legends; the Prešernov trg square and its buildings; or the terraces and restaurants along the banks of the river where you can have some beer and try the delicious Slovenian cuisine.
Combining such an important sporting event with a visit to one of the most beautiful and interesting cities in Europe, which many travelers have not yet discovered, has the makings of the perfect holiday. If you have time, I would also recommend visiting other parts of Slovenia. In addition to the other cities where the Eurobasket will be held, there are lovely spots like Lake Bled that offer wonderful views. Come discover Slovenia and find what fascinates you.
If you like basketball and sports in general, don´t miss this opportunity. Rent one of Ljubljana apartments to enjoy this year´s Eurobasket and get to know this beautiful city that is full of surprises.