EuroBasket 1939

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FIBA EuroBasket 1939
3rd FIBA European Basketball Championship
EuroBasket 1939 logo.jpg
Tournament details
Host nation Lithuania
Dates 21–28 May
Teams (from 20 federations)
Venues (in 1 host city)
Champions  Lithuania (2nd title)
Tournament statistics
Players Teams
Points Estonia Heino Veskila (16.6)
Official website
EuroBasket 1939 (archive)
1941 >

The 1939 FIBA European Championship, commonly called FIBA EuroBasket 1939, was the third FIBA EuroBasket regional basketball championship, held by FIBA Europe. Eight national teams affiliated with the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) took part in the competition. Defending champions Lithuania hosted the tournament, held in Kaunas Sports Hall.


The price for tickets were high in that time. The price for seat were 2,5–5 LTL and for standing spot 1,5–2 LTL.


One of the toughest question was where the competition games of the Third European Basketball Championship should be played. First European Championship was held in a primitively adapted exhibitions hall, second – in adapted former factory premises. Firstly, there was a thought to organize it in an open-court with a hanging tarpaulin roof, protecting from the rain, in the that time State Court (currently Darius and Girėnas Stadium). Although, such building wasn't suitable nor for the Lithuania, nor for the FIBA. It was decided to build completely new sports hall for the basketball games. Anatolijus Rozenbliumas projected the new basketball hall with capacity of 11.000 people (3.500 seats). It cost around 400.000 LTL, however nobody complained about its necessarily and its building progress. Kaunas Sports Hall was built in time. Many helpers participated in construction. One of them, Donatas Banionis, remembers: "I remember 1939 European Championship in Kaunas. Then the Kaunas Sports Hall was built. On the eve of the tournament I learned from friends that helpers are required to number the benches. Free observation of the games was promised for that. This, for us – boys, was a staggering thing. The cheapest ticket to all the games cost 10 LTL. So I numbered the sports hall benches with dye honestly".[1]

Opening and closing ceremonies[edit]

The opening ceremony of the EuroBasket 1939 took place on May 21, 1939. Independent Lithuania sport historian, Jonas Narbutas, wrote: "The interest in the competition, of course, was huge. But still it was hardly imaginable that even that big event may attract such wide masses. <...> It seemed that the whole Kaunas swam into the National Stadium. Tides of people attended the Vytautas hill: by foot, by driving. <...> Generations of times swam into the hall: near the gray-headed there was his aging son with his children, small and big swam, of all ages and castes. <...> The hall <...> possibly sheltered 10.000 of people. It is doubtful that more could fit there. It was possible to sell 20.000 tickets to the opening and the closing ceremonies".[2] The opening ceremony was started by the Lithuanian president Antanas Smetona speech.

Teams and their compositions[edit]

Postage stamp with the planned participants flags.

At first, after sending the invitations, 17 countries wished to compete. Even the basketball newcomers: Great Britain, Turkey, Germany planned the participation in it. Because of this, one of the issued postage stamp has 17 countries flags.[3] Though, when Kaunas was waiting for the guests from all the European countries, World War II phantom was already wandering in Europe. Some of the 17 planned countries were interested not in basketball anymore.

Eight teams arrived. Despite that, all the strongest teams of the EuroBasket 1937 participated (Lithuania, Italy, France). The championship prestige was also raised with the very capable Baltic teams participation (Latvia, Estonia). Most of the teams arrived at Kaunas firmly strengthened: Lithuania, Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Italy national teams had emigrants, who finished studies in the United States of America.

Everyone were thrilled with the question: will tall (unlimited) height players participation will be allowed? At that time FIBA had rule which distributed players into two groups: lower than 1.90 meter and taller than 1.90 meter. Though, this rule never was used practically. Two teams had players taller than 1.90 meter: Estonia (Ralf Viksten – 1.98 meter) and Lithuania (Pranas Lubinas – 2.00 or 2.01 meter). Just one day before the competition, FIBA Technical Committee reached an decision allowing players of all heights to compete.[4]


EuroBasket 1939 opening ceremony
EuroBasket 1939 opening ceremony
Lithuania-Hungary game during EuroBasket 1939

The 1939 competition was in a very simple format. Each team played each of the other teams once. A win was worth 2 standings points, a loss worth 1. The rankings were based on those standing points. Ties were broken by head-to-head results. The winning team was Lithuania. In retrospect, the most important match was Lithuania vs Latvia in the first round. Lithuania won by 1 point, and this was the eventual winning margin of the championship. Relations between the two nations soured to such an extent that it led to the cancellation of the subsequent 1939 Baltic Cup football tournament.

Match results[edit]

France 76 – 11 Finland
Poland 35 – 31 Estonia
Italy 39 – 21 Hungary
Lithuania 37 – 36 Latvia
Poland 38 – 36 France
Italy 63 – 13 Finland
Lithuania 33 – 14 Estonia
Latvia 58 – 24 Hungary
France 31 – 24 Italy
Lithuania 46 – 18 Poland
Latvia 108 – 7 Finland
Estonia 64 – 18 Hungary
Estonia 91 – 1 Finland
Poland 42 – 20 Hungary
Latvia 38 – 23 Italy
Lithuania 48 – 18 France
Latvia 45 – 26 France
Lithuania 79 – 15 Hungary
Estonia 29 – 22 Italy
Poland 46 – 13 Finland
Poland 43 – 27 Italy
France 45 – 19 Hungary
Lithuania 112 – 9 Finland
Estonia 26 – 25 Latvia
Lithuania 41 – 27 Italy
Hungary 45 – 16 Finland
France 33 – 31 Estonia
Latvia 43 – 20 Poland

 1939 FIBA European Champions 

2nd title

Final standings[edit]

EuroBasket 1939 presidential prize. A silver chest decorated with ambers.
Rank Team Pts W L PF PA Diff
1. Gold medal europe.svg  Lithuania 14 7 0 396 137 +259
2. Silver medal europe.svg  Latvia 12 5 2 353 163 +190
3. Bronze medal europe.svg  Poland 12 5 2 242 216 +26
4.  France 11 4 3 265 216 +49
5.  Estonia 11 4 3 286 167 +119
6.  Italy 9 2 5 225 216 +9
7.  Hungary 8 1 6 162 343 −181
8.  Finland 7 0 7 70 541 −471

Team rosters[edit]

Lithuania's Lubinas was the same person as the Frank Lubin who had played for the gold medal United States national basketball team at the 1936 Summer Olympics.

1. Lithuania: Pranas Lubinas, Mykolas Ruzgys, Feliksas Kriaučiūnas, Leonas Baltrūnas, Zenonas Puzinauskas, Artūras Andrulis, Pranas Mažeika, Leonas Petrauskas, Eugenijus Nikolskis, Vytautas Norkus, Jurgis Jurgėla, Mindaugas Šliūpas, Vytautas Budriūnas, Vytautas Lesčinskas (Coach: Pranas Lubinas)

2. Latvia: Visvaldis Melderis, Kārlis Arents, Jānis Graudiņš, Teodors Grīnbergs, Maksis Kazāks, Alfrēds Krauklis, Voldemārs Šmits, Juris Solovjovs, Aleksandrs Vanags, Kārlis Satiņš (Coach: Valdemārs Baumanis)

3. Poland: Paweł Stok, Bogdan Bartosiewicz, Jerzy Gregołajtis, Florian Grzechowiak, Zdzisław Kasprzak, Ewaryst Łój, Stanisław Pawlowski, Zbigniew Resich, Jerzy Rossudowski, Jarosław Śmigielski (Coach: Walenty Kłyszejko)

4. France: Robert Busnel, Vladimir Fabrikant, Henri Lesmayoux, Fernand Prudhomme, Jean Jeammes, Etienne Roland, Emile Frezot, Robert Cohu, Maurice Mertz, Abel Gravier, Andre Ambroise, Gaston Falleur, Gabriel Gonnet, Alexandre Katlama (Coach: Paul Geist)

5. Estonia: Heino Veskila, Evald Mahl, Oskar Erikson, Ralf Viksten, Georg Vinogradov, Erich Altosaar, Artur Amon, Hans Juurup, Valdeko Valdmäe, Herbert Tillemann (Coach: Herbert Niiler)


  1. ^ Stanislovas Stonkus "Krepšinio kelias į Lietuvą" (pages: 33-35)
  2. ^ Stanislovas Stonkus "Krepšinio kelias į Lietuvą" (pages: 37-38)
  3. ^ Stanislovas Stonkus "Krepšinio kelias į Lietuvą" (page: 32)
  4. ^ Stanislovas Stonkus "Krepšinio kelias į Lietuvą" (pages: 36-37)

External links[edit]