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FIBA EuroBasket 2017 Trophy Tour tips off in Latvia, next stop Iceland
RIGA (FIBA EuroBasket 2017 Trophy Tour) – The FIBA EuroBasket 2017 Trophy Tour got off to a start in Riga, Latvia on Sunday, with fans taking the opportunity to have their photo with the Nikolai Semashko Trophy.
Riga, which was also the first stop for the FIBA EuroBasket 2015 Trophy Tour, as well as acting as one of the Group Phase hosts of the same event, provided the perfect starting point for 2017.
The trophy was on display as part of the Latvian Basketball Federation's annual basketball day in a well-frequented shopping mall, which offered children the opportunity to play basketball with some of their heroes from the Latvian national league, meet FIBA EuroBasket 2017 mascot, Sam Dunk and of course, be photographed with the Nikolai Semashko Trophy.
For Latvian Basketball Federation Secretary General Edgars Sneps, it was an honor to be the first stop on the Trophy Tour.
"Latvian basketball players have always tried to be first. 82 years ago we were the first team to be named European Champions; two years ago we were part of the first EuroBasket four-country hosting concept and now we are the first to host the EuroBasket Trophy Tour with the new trophy.
"In Latvia it is really important because of the high hopes we hold for our national team for a successful start to FIBA EuroBasket 2017, and we are also in the race to host FIBA EuroBasket Women 2019."
On Monday, the trophy was the guest of honor on Latvian television show, "Overtime TV", which happens to be co-hosted by two-time EuroBasket champion with the Soviet Union, Valdis Valters, who relished the opportunity to get up and close to the trophy again.
"It is old, old history," reminisced Valters, with a smile on his face. “'81, '85…it was a great time for my basketball career.
"We could have won a third time in Greece [in 1987] but Nikos Galis did not help us," he added, laughing.
"But for me it was more important that Latvia won it in 1935 because Latvia is very small and the Soviet Union is very big."
The Tour stop concluded with a photo-shooting session in front of a number of iconic Riga locations, and the building which played host to the second-ever EuroBasket, in 1937. It was there, that mascot Sam Dunk bumped into an old friend, Frenkie, who was the official mascot of FIBA EuroBasket 2015.
The Trophy Tour will continue in Iceland this Friday.