As the world’s premier basketball league, every aspiring basketball player dreams of one day playing in the NBA. Gone are the days when the NBA was purely a US-focused league, and one of the countries firmly rooted in NBA culture is Spain.
The country is known as home to some of the most colorful players who have played on various NBA teams; for example, the brothers Marc and Pau Gasol are two of the most prominent Spanish players who played in the NBA and inspired young people to pursue the dream of success in basketball.
While many American players who can’t make it in the US find their way into the Spanish ACB league, one of the best in Europe.
While football rules the hearts of the majority of the Spanish population, basketball takes second place. The popularity of this sport has increased significantly in previous years as the younger generation began to show great interest in it. So let’s take a look at how basketball became such a popular sport in Spain and its current status in the country.
History of Basketball in Spain
Although basketball was invented in the late 1800s, it did not appear in Spain until the 1900s. In 1921, Spanish priest Eusenio Millan introduced the sport to Spain. During his visit to Cuba, he saw people playing basketball and thought it was the perfect sport for Spain, given the country’s cold climate.
Eusenio Millán first introduced the sport at a school in Barcelona where he worked as an educator. Then in 1922 the priest founded the Laetano basketball team. In the following years, the number of basketball teams throughout Spain grew exponentially. The Spanish Basketball Federation (FEB: Federación Española de Baloncesto) was created in 1923. In 1932, a basketball competition was organized between Madrid and Catalonia, paving the way for interregional and international competitions.
Today, FEB has over 375,000 registered basketball players and over 3,300 registered basketball clubs. He oversees the men’s and women’s national basketball teams and the country’s top professional basketball league.
Spain national basketball team
The Spanish men’s basketball team has been a member of FIBA since 1934. The team played their first international match against Portugal in April 1935 in Madrid and won. The team qualified for the Olympics for the first time in 1936, but was unable to compete in the event due to the Spanish Civil War starting shortly before the games. The team reappeared at the Olympics in 1960 but did not find success until 1984 when they won the silver medal. In total, the team won three silver and one bronze medals at the Olympic Games.
The national team also competed at the EuroBasket 32 times and won four gold, six silver and four bronze medals. The most recent success was the victory at EuroBasket 2022. In addition to EuroBasket, Spain has participated 12 times in the FIBA World Cup and won the tournament in 2006 and 2019. Today, the Spanish national basketball team ranks first in the FIBA rankings.
The women’s basketball team has also played internationally since 1934 and, like the men’s team, is one of the strongest in the world and is currently ranked 4th.th in the FIBA rankings. The team has won gold at the EuroBasket four times, the last of which was in 2019. She also won one silver medal and five bronze medals in the tournament. The women’s team competed in five Olympic events and won a silver medal in 2016. In addition, the Spaniards won one silver and two bronze medals at the FIBA World Championship.
Spanish Basketball League System
Liga ACB is the top professional basketball league in Spain and one of the best in Europe. While the FEB oversees it, the Asociación de Clubs de Baloncesto manages its operations. Liga ACB was founded in 1983 as ACB Primera Division.
Prior to its formation, the Liga Española de Baloncesto was the top basketball league from 1957 to 1983. The league was run by the Spanish Basketball Federation until the member clubs of Liga Espanola decided to create an Association of Basketball Clubs and formed the Liga ACB.
Today the ACB League consists of 18 teams that are very competitive and have won major tournaments. Real Madrid are the reigning league champions with 14 titles. However, the team that has won the most titles is Barça with 16 wins.
Like a football club, Real Madrid is one of the most successful basketball clubs and has won 10 Euroleague championships among other titles. FC Barcelona Bàsquet, or Barca, is the oldest basketball club in the ACB, founded in 1926. They are one of the most successful teams in the league, winning the European Championship twice and winning the Triple Crown in 2003. and a relegation system with LEB Oro, the second largest division.
The LF, or Liga Femenina de Baloncesto, is the premier women’s professional basketball league. It was founded in 1964 and currently has 16 teams with Perfumerías Avenida as the reigning champions. The LF follows the promotion and relegation system of Liga Femenina 2, the second largest women’s basketball league in the country.