Latvian hockey on the rise?
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10-31-2012, 02:10 PM
Join Date: Apr 2007
Originally Posted by
Great post with a lot of historical info.
Fascinating about basketball in Latvia and Lithuania. Maybe it was that local derby that fueled the popularity over the years?
The derby certainly fuels the popularity even now. If Žalgiris or Lithuanian NT is coming to Riga then suddenly there's a big increase in popularity of the sport. But now basketball is probably at the lowest popularity level since late 90s, as some NT members discredited themselves with drinking and hooliganism during preparation for European Championship few years ago and were disqualified, and now the federation is trying to build a new team, free from past sins with bad discipline and bad example to youth but it's not going that well.
Though now basketball is in the position to try to regain popularity again, as there's only one powerhouse in Riga again, VEF Riga, that's playing in a similar league as KHL called VTB United League, where such great teams as CSKA Moscow, Rytas, Žalgiris and other Russian and foreign teams are playing. Their budget is also few million euros and they're playing pretty good... though attendance is bad and only thing people love to go to in Riga is Dinamo.
But if we look in history basketball has always shot itself in a leg, so to say, and let hockey take the limelight because there have often been strong local rivalries in Riga and because of them no single really strong club could emerge in Latvia as money and player resources were split. It has been like that from the very beginning- in 30s there was ASK Riga vs US Riga rivalry, then after 60s brief period of ASK as a superclub there appeared VEF Riga and again there was local rivalry. Then before the economic crisis arguably both my favourite team Barons Riga and ASK Riga, could together raise a budget not that far off what Dinamo has now, but instead there was this local rivalry instead of one big club playing at good level. Now VEF Riga is alone ruling in Riga and Latvia basketball so maybe something will come out of this.
Then again if Dinamo keeps winning SKA in St.Petersburg 4:3 like today vs Kovalchuk from time to time, nothing can help basketball imho
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