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Syrian Basketball (Men)

Basketball in Syria: Interview with coach Tane Spasev .. "Pt.1" - Aug 30, 2012

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Tane Spasev
The coach was interviewed by Basketball-Culture
Syria is currently in a critical political situation. Nevertheless, Basketball is still alive and the U18 Boys National Team is even competing in the Asian Championships at the moment. A Macedonian coach is one of the key figures in the Syrian Youth Basketball system. Therefore, we wanted to check with Tane Spasev what is going on.

Hello Tane, can you present yourself first? You played basketball in Macedonia before going to the United States in 2000. However, you stopped playing afterwards. Why?
Yes, I was born and raised in Macedonia where I started playing basketball when I was 12 years old. I started playing in my hometown team of BC STIP and moved to the top level Macedonian league at the age of 18 with team BC DEXIM. In 2000, I moved to the USA on a basketball scholarship and played college basketball until 2002 when I decided to come back to Europe and try to continue playing professional basketball. There were combinations of injuries and not right contract offers that forced me to quit playing. During that time, in 2004, my friend coach Borce Ilievski asked me to help him around with his youth basketball club BC GUSARI as assistant coach; those were my first steps as a coach. BC GUSARI won the Macedonian League title U15 that year. In 2008 I opened my private basketball academy PANDA BASKET. In 2010 I moved to BC JUNIOR-Skopje who is a traditional power house in youth basketball in Macedonia and South Europe. In the 2010/2011 season BC JUNIOR teams won 4 Macedonian National Youth Leagues titles and 2 International Tournaments. In 2011 then, I moved here to Syria.

How did you react when you got an offer to coach in Syria which is not a traditional destination?
I am familiar with Syria and Middle East Basketball through my good friend AHMAD MADWAR, a Syrian who works as an agent here in the Middle East. He was trying to bring me as a coach here since 2010 but I had other obligations. Finally in May 2011 an offer from the Syrian Basketball Federation came that was hard to refuse. Although Syria and the Middle East are not a traditional destination, I found out that due to the good economic situation and rise of basketball awareness, the region is becoming interesting for a lot of coaches.

What can you say about Basketball in Syria in general? How is the level?
Like everywhere in the Middle East (except Lebanon) basketball in Syria is a second sport far behind football. Syria is a big country of 23 million people with variety of religions, cultures and genetic mixture so the potential for good basketball culture is great. We have young men in their early 20s that are 2m17 and 2m15 tall, we have a bunch of kids in U14 that are already 2m00 tall. The talent is here, we just need time to develop the fundamentals and proper basketball attitude and we are working hard on that. Currently the professional league has 12 professional teams and up to 2011 every team had 2 foreigners. The level was OK and the Top 2 or 3 teams played descent role in the international Asia and Arab leagues. The top team here was having a budget of nearly 2 million dollars

How does the daily life as Youth coordinator of the Syrian Basketball federation look like?
Well mornings are usually reserved for meetings at the federation regarding daily business and plans of work for the national teams. At the evenings we hold practices for the selections. The Syrian Basketball Federation runs 4 centers: Damascus, Aleppo, Tartus and Latakia. At these centers we gather all the talented kids from the clubs and we work with them. We have a total of 300 kids in this program. I directly coach the U14 and U12 Damascus groups and I supervise the other groups across Syria. These days I also run the U16 National team.   

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