The second most popular sport in Latvia is Basketball (next to Ice Hockey).
Latvia made history in 1935 when the Latvian Basketball Team won the first European championship and in 1937 they hosted the second European championship.
The governing body for the Latvia’s competitions is the Latvijas Basketbola Savienība(LBS) or the Latvian Basketball Association. The association is in charge in the participation of the Latvian’s National Basketball team in any basketball tournaments either national or international.It also runs the Latvian’s men’s and women’s professional leagues, amateur and youth leagues.
In the 1950’s and early 1960’s, ASK Riga (the Latvian Men’s Basketball team), was leading in the Soviet League. The team won numerous Soviet league championships and in 1958, 1959 and 1960, the team won three European Champion’s cups.
Four Latvians were part of the Soviet Team who won a silver medal in the 1960 Summer Olympics. The four players are Janis Krumins, Valdis Muiznieks, Cezars Ozers and Maigonis Valdmains. In 1956 and 1964 Summer Olympics, three Latvian players are member of the soviet team and in 1952 the soviet team had one Latvian.
Women’s Basketball is also flourishing in the country. The women’s team which is the TTT Riga was successfully great in the year 1970s and 1980s since they won 18 times in the European Championship Cup.
The key player of the team in this period is Uljana Semjonova who is 7ft tall. She was a leading player in the Soviet team since they won 2 times in the Olympic Games and 3 times in the world champion. The team never loses a game in in international competition.
Valdis Valter is a much admired player in 1980s for the men’s basketball. He won with the Soviet team the European Championsip in 1981 and was rewarded as the most valuable player of the event. In 1988 another Latvian, Igors Miglinieks, with the Soviet team won gold medal in the Summer Olympics.
In 1992 Latvia, as an independent country, returned in international competition. The 1992 Summer Olympics qualifiers was the Latvia’s first team competition. Latvian nationals, Igors Miglinieks and Gundars Vētra, choose to play for the Unified Team causing the Latvian team unsuccessful to be qualified in the Olympics.
In 2001 European Championships, the Latvian team ended in the 8th place making it the most successful competition for Latvia after the country had its independence. Kaspars Kambala was the best player in the competition who plays as a center and the power forward position. The Broceni team and Ventspils team lead the Latvijas BasketbolaLiga or the Latvia’s national championship in 1990s and the 2000s respectively.
In 1993 another Latvian pride played in the NBA. He is Gundars Vetra the Latvians first player in the US and played for Minnesota Timberwolves in 1993 with 13 games played. Another Latvian is Andris Biedrins who was the 11th overall in the 2004 NBA Draft by the Golden State Warriors. In the 2004-2005 NBA season, Biedrins was the youngest among all the players and making him the second Latvian in NBA.