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100 years of continuous innovation, the strength of basketball in a book

by archysport

(from Mario Natucci). One hundred years and not hear them. The basketball federation celebrates its first century in Lombardy, in Milan, where Italian basketball had its cradle and where it received the first strong impulses to advance on the path of popularity.

Why a hundred years and not hear them? Because since its inception in the post-war period it has always had the strength to continually renew itself and expand to every category of people. While football, to speak of the number one sport in Italy, has given great space to women only for not many years – basketball has opened the doors to the female gender from the very beginning. Indeed, the first basketball game ever played in Italy was precisely between women, in 1907 in Venice, on the initiative of the Sienese Ida Nomi Pesciolini. Again: the first European Champions Cup won by an Italian women’s team of any sport was the one won by Geas Sesto San Giovanni led by the great Mabel Bocchi in 1978.

That trophy was truly historic also because it was the only European Cup that an Italian team – in every sport, both in the women’s and men’s fields – won without the contribution of foreigners.

The first century of basketball history have been collected in a book entitled “100 years of basketball in Lombardy”, Authors Sergio Giuntini, Sergio Meda and Mario Zaninelli.

“Lombardy once again came first – commented Gianni Petrucci, president of the Basketball Federation – Now we await the celebration by the other regions”.

The effort of the authors was severe. “There was practically nothing in our archive – said Giorgio Maggi, president of the Lombardy Regional Committee – Thus was born the idea of ​​publishing a book with the history of Lombard basketball, which is also an important slice of national basketball. At the same time in Milan we are celebrating the 60th anniversary of the minibasket, conceived by Emilio Tricerri, whose work is continued by his son Giorgio ”.

Women, children … is there anything else? There is, and how. Basketball also gave space to grandparents with the maxibasket, which is basketball played by athletes aged 40 to 80. Created in the Sixties in Argentina, the maxibasket arrived late in Italy. But in a few years he has forged ahead: our vintage Azzurri have won – in the various categories – something like 10 European and 11 world titles.

In the world ranking, Italy is in fifth place behind the USA, Russia, Brazil and Litualia; and if we limit ourselves only to men’s basketball, it is even in third place. And the Maxibasket Milano, born in 2017, already has a bronze medal in the Over 55 category. One of the authors of the book on the 100th anniversary of basketball in Lombardy is a valid maxibasket player, Mario Zaninelli, 60 also a priest. And that he is among the creators of an important operation: to donate a basketball court to Aleppo, a Syrian city disfigured by a war that has been going on for nine years and shows no sign of ending.

The presentation of the book was hosted by Banco BPM in its splendid auditorium, where historical names of our basketball were present, from the aces Meneghin, Marzorati, Recalcati to the managers, journalists, referees who gave prestige to Lombard and national basketball.

President Petrucci wanted to underline that basketball is not a minor sport, given that in the world there are about twenty countries where it is the number one sport. Excess of passion, more than understandable. Unfortunately for him – and for basketball – Italy has a sporting civilization comparable to that of the Gambia. Here, football is eaten just under 90 per center of the space in the newspapers, including the four sports dailies, which in fact are football and football cheering dailies.

And yet, according to SIAE figures, basketball in Italy comes after football in terms of the number of tickets sold. It is not cheap. The secret of this success lies in the fact that it has never stood still, and has never hesitated to churn out news.

Just scroll through the photos decade after decade and see how the uniforms, the balls, the baskets, the playing fields, the gyms, the sports halls have changed. Not to mention the regulations, which continually added something, adapted to the times, to the tastes of the public, to the show.

This is the strength of basketball, which in Lombardy has accumulated important successes also in the international field. The first Champions Cup was won in Milan, a chain of international successes was built in Cantù that is envied throughout Europe.

Lombard basketball was lucky enough to seize the opportunities offered by Italy of the economic boom in the golden period from 1966 to 1988. It is no coincidence that the basketball boom is largely concise with the boom in growth economic and social. Mario Zaninelli is right when he says that the history of Italy can be read in this book. And now, facing a new century?

“We can be optimistic – says Fip president Gianni Petrucci – the future looks brighter, our basketball has started to reap important successes, it has become more authoritative. Go on like this”.
Mario Natucci

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