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We got game: the history of Basketball made in Emilia Romagna

by /// August 31, 2021
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes



Saturday, March 25 will mark the birthday of Marco Belinelli, Italian basketball player from Emilia Romagna and only in Italian basketball history to win an NBA national title and an NBA All-Star Weekend, in the shooting category by three points.

But today I would like to not only speak about Marco Belinelli, about its glories and its trophies, but take a step back to tell you a piece of the local basketball history, a history that has its roots in the late nineteenth century, so much so that we can say that the Italian Basketball must give part of its fame to its teams and Emilia Romagna samples.


Virtus Basket Team in the early 20th century

But let’s start from the beginning.
The first training of a Bolognese basketball team date back to 1889 and were made under the symbol of a newborn club, the Virtus Bologna, a name that would in time become one of the most famous and victorious sports clubs of the whole Italy . Virtus Bologna will be also the first team to win the national championship and that will also be the first team of Italy to see deployed a foreign player, Stellone Nunzio.


Viturs Team poses before a match in Sala Borsa, the bologna’s covered square

But Virtus or less, in the 30s in the city of Bologna were carried tournaments of “Palla al cesto“, the name by which it was called basketball in Italy, and there were about six city teams; since 1931 was also part of the tournaments the Fortitudo Bologna team, a company which at the time was in its infancy but would conquer in the years no less fame of Virtus.

The Italian basketball moved its first steps, the Milanese teams, those of Emilia Romagna along with those of the north-east and Rome had all been founded, the rise of this American sport in Italy would been only quesitone time and the city of Bologna had everything to become one of the Italian capital of basketball.


Fortitudo Team in Pala Dozza

The harder they come!
From this history and from this humus throughout the Emilia Romagna, from the porticoes and red brick of Bologna and from the stench of the provincial gyms sweat, which over the years 90, and 2000 begin to arrive the great players. They come under the wing of a young coaches as Ettore Messina, and they come by countryside outside Bologna to play with professional teams.

Among the many there is a tall guy, very young, with good face and a natural talent for putting the ball in the basket; his name is Marco Belinelli and at 15 years old is ready to train with professionals, including Manuel Ginobili, captain of the Argentine national team that will always be one of the references of his career.


A young Marco Belinelli posing for a photo shoot by NIKE

But the Virtus team at the time had had some economically bad passes, and Marco was forced to settle down to Fortitudo ( a step not easy given the town rivalry between the two teams), with whom will win a championship.
But Marco was strong and very young, and his talent ends up being noticed in the NBA and choosed by Golden State Warriors. In the following years he dressed the colors of the New Orleans Hornets and of Chicago Bulls, the Obama’s and Michael Jordan team. The consecration came in 2014 when he won the national title with San Antonio Spurs, winning by the way also the race by three points at the All-Star Weekend. Marco is now in the world history of basketball.


Grissin-Bon Reggiana Basket Team

Meanwhile, however, in Emilia Romagna the Bologna basketball sees set his best season for the benefit of the rise of another regional team, the Grissin Bon Basketball Reggiana which is still one of the best teams that the National Basketball Championship and which welcomes inside its ranks many of the best young Italian players.


Walter Manni

Explorer and Adventurer: loves sailing the oceans, climbing the highest mountains and surfing on the waves of the web

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