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In the beginning ... EuroBasket 1935 in Geneva

MIES (Switzerland) - Of all the FIBA EuroBasket spectacles that have taken place over the years and deservedly earned the tournament the recognition as the toughest and most competitive of continental championships, it was the event that did not have much glitz and glamor that some view as the most important in its long history.

In 1935, the first FIBA EuroBasket was staged in Geneva, Switzerland.

Even if there were no high-flying dunks, game-winning three-pointers or sensational swats, the event proved special.

As one of FIBA's 90 iconic moments, there was an abundance of passion as players represented their countries, and an unlikely victor, Latvia, which therefore owns a chapter in the encyclopedia of Davids beating Goliaths.

Ten teams took part in the EuroBasket, which FIBA also used as a test event of sorts ahead of the 1936 Olympics, which would have basketball for the first time.

The Organizing Committee for the Berlin Games had notified FIBA the year before that the Olympics had accepted the application to stage a tournament.

FIBA staged the first EuroBasket at the Palais des Expositions.

Czechoslovakia were a team that many expected to win EuroBasket 1935 while the other competing nations were Spain, Romania, France, Belgium, Italy, Bulgaria, Hungary, hosts Switzerland and Latvia.

That Latvia and Spain, the two teams to square off in the Final, even made it to the tournament was a story in itself.

Spain didn't know how it would pay for the trip. Ultimately, Spanish Basketball Federation President Gonzalo Aguirre dipped into his own pockets to fund the travel. Even then, Spain arrived in Geneva in barely enough time to play their first game against Belgium, which they won, 25-17.

That Latvia even made it to the event was an accomplishment, too. In addition to a debate about the makeup of the team, the Baltic country also didn't know if it would raise enough funds to travel.

Money was ultimately given by the Latvian Association of Sports Organizations, with an even bigger contribution from the Latvian government.

Latvia went by train, in a third class rail car, and the trip took 36 hours.

They received a favorable matchup against Hungary in their first game and prevailed, 46-12.

The Czechoslovaks saw their title hopes derailed by Spain in the next game, 21-17, with the 1.85m small forward from Madrid, Rafael Martin, showing off his tantalizing dribbling skills. Martin, who led Spain with 10 points, was later named as the EuroBasket 1935 MVP.

Latvia defeated Switzerland in their second game, 28-19, and advanced to meet Spain in the Final that was seen by 2,000 spectators.

In the title game, the Latvians made good use of their height advantage and claimed an 18-8 lead by half-time before holding on and winning the game, 24-18.

Not only did Latvia claim its one and only EuroBasket crown (they also played at the EuroBaskets in 1937 and 1939 before their players had to suit up for the Soviet Union for the next half century) but Spain also captured the first of what would be many medals in their long history of European Championships.

Most of important of all was that the tournament demonstrated that many countries played the sport in Europe, and of course, FIBA crucially launched a EuroBasket tournament that has evolved into a competitive and world famous basketball extravaganza.

Latvia's great triumph was immortalized in a film that has served as inspiration for Latvian players.

Called Dream Team 1935, the two-hour movie was released in 2012 and chronicles the experience of the Latvia team that was coached by Valdemars Baumanis.