LONDON AND PESARO – The National Basketball Association (NBA) and the Italian Basketball Federation (FIP) today announced a groundbreaking multiyear collaboration to launch Jr. NBA FIP U13 Championship, a first-of-its-kind national youth basketball competition for boys and girls ages 13 and under across Italy.
The program will feature 390 club-based youth teams from 13 regions across Italy competing in 14 local leagues from Nov. 2022 to May 2023. The winning teams from the local leagues will advance to the playoffs which will feature a single-elimination tournament to crown the 2022-23 Jr. NBA FIP U13 National Champions. Additional details about the date and location of the playoffs will be announced at a later date.
The collaboration was announced today at PalaVitrifrigo Arena in Pesaro, by FIP President Giovanni Petrucci, NBA Associate Vice President of Basketball Operations, Europe and Middle East Neal Meyer and Italian National Team Head Coach Gianmarco Pozzecco. The event attended by Italian National Team guard Matteo Spagnolo, Naismith Memorial Hall of Famer Dino Radja and more than 200 U13 players from Marche.
“Today’s agreement has historic significance for basketball in Italy,” said FIP President Giovanni Petrucci. “This is a first of its kind collaboration between a national basketball federation and the NBA, as we embark on a multi-year project, which involves thousands of young players, as well as clubs and all our Regional Committees. The U13 championship is a step between minibasket and youth basketball activities and has an enormous responsibility in keeping alive the passion in young boys and girls for our sport. As we give them the opportunity to play with the jerseys and colors of NBA teams, we are sure that this will further fuel their passion for the game of basketball.”
“We are extremely proud to announce our most extensive youth basketball program ever hosted in Italy, which is the result of our longtime collaboration with the Italian Basketball Federation,” said Meyer. “The Jr. NBA FIP U13 Championship will provide a platform for top youth players in Italy to represent their region and showcase their skills on a national stage against their peers from across the country.”
“Last summer I experienced the sensation of wearing an NBA jersey, an incredible story considering that not too many years ago I was sitting where these kids are now. I know the emotion that the young players here are feeling right now. All kids who play basketball dream about the NBA, as did I,” said Spagnolo. “This is a wonderful project because it brings young players closer to the world of the NBA. I wish you too reach it one day.”
“I am very excited to be here today because Pesaro is a fantastic place for basketball and has written several pages in the history of Italian and European basketball,” said Radja. “There are many differences between Italy and the NBA, but I can assure you that playing in Italy for three years helped me a lot and prepared me to cross the ocean to the NBA when I was ready. This project brings the two realities closer.”
“I can only thank the NBA and the FIP,” said Pozzecco. “I firmly believe that this collaboration will help everyone to experience basketball with even more passion and enthusiasm.”
Participating regions will tip off local leagues this month with a draft event where each club team will be assigned an NBA team and receive corresponding NBA team-branded jerseys for games. Participating referees and coaches will also be provided official NBA-branded outfitting.
The Jr. NBA FIP U13 Championship will expand from engaging 14 leagues in 13 regions to 25 leagues in 20 regions by year two, with the goal of reaching 1,040 teams across 37 leagues by 2024.
The Jr. NBA, the league’s global youth basketball program for boys and girls, teaches the fundamental skills as well as the core values of the game – teamwork, respect, determination and community – at the grassroots level in an effort to help grow and improve the youth basketball experience for players, coaches and parents.
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