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Remembering former FIBA Technical Commission president, Rasa Saper
FIBA Family
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Remembering former FIBA Technical Commission president, Rasa Saper

MIES - There have been many men whose hard work and dedication to basketball over the years have made it the great sport it is today.

Basketball in Serbia and the former Yugoslavia certainly wouldn't have its great successes or be as famous as it is now, had it not been impacted by one of those men, the late Radomir "Rasa" Saper who passed away exactly 20 years ago, on December 6, 1998.

A true mover-and-shaker in his homeland of Serbia, Saper took his expertise to FIBA after being elected President of the Technical Commission at the basketball's world governing body in 1972 and served in that role until his death 26 years later.

Saper is perhaps best known for his enormous contributions to the improvement of international basketball rules.

In fact, since 2001, FIBA awards the Radomir Shaper Prize to an individual who has distinguished himself and made exceptional contributions to the development of the basketball rules.

He was widely regarded as an extraordinary and well-rounded person. He held a PhD in Technical Sciences.

Having graduated from the Faculty of Technology and Metallurgy in Belgrade, he became in 1968 a faculty professor and went on to be named Associate Dean of the Faculty of Technology and Metallurgy 12 years later.

In basketball, he took his first steps in the sport with the BSK basketball club (later to become OKK Belgrade). Saper was then one of the first players of the newly-formed Red Star and was a teammate there with legendary Yugoslavians Aleksandar Nikolic and Borislav Stankovic, the Secretary General Emeritus of FIBA.

In addition to BSK and Red Star, Saper played for a third Belgrade club, Partizan, and also suited up for Yugoslavia.

His contributions to the sport were more profound after he stopped playing and became an administrator.

After taking on the leading role with the Yugoslavian Basketball Federation's Technical Commission (Competition Commission), Saper in 1965 was elected president of his country's basketball federation.

During his tenure, in 1970, Yugoslavia hosted the FIBA Basketball World Cup in Ljubljana and captured the crown, to reach the top step of the podium. The team overcame Italy, Brazil, Czechoslovakia, Uruguay, the United States and the Soviet Union on the way to the title. It was the country's first of five championships in FIBA’s flagship event.

A true inspiration to everyone in his country, Saper was posthumously enshrined as a contributor into the FIBA Hall of Fame in 2007.