History of Basketball in Zadar

Zadar is considered to be the birthplace of Croatian basketball.The very first mention of Basketball in Zadar can be traced all the way back to April 7th of 1928. On that day Italian soldiers stationed in Zadar started competing in a divisonal tournament in Ancona, Italy ( back then Zadar itself was an Italian city ). But, according to Djure Vujanic, a basketball historian, basketball in Zadar was played as early as 1925. Basketball was brought to Zadar by Italian college students and was mostly played by a few enthusiasts until 1930. On October 1st 1930 the first basketball organization was founded in Zadar and shortly thereafter classes for referees and game keepers were offered.

Post WW II

In 1945 after the World War II a men's and women's basketball teams from Zadar competed in Zagreb and took second place. Just one month later a city tournament was held in Zadar. The four teams competing were Arbanasi, Vostarnica, Valdeghisi and Zadar. The tournament featured a playoff final between the first and second teams. Something that was not introduced in Europe until 40 years later. In 1947 Zadar won the Dalmatian and Croatian championship and finished third in the Yugoslavian championship.
Shortly thereafter Zadar players started emigrating to other teams and Zadar itself had mixed success in National and regional championships.

Golden years

Finally in 1958 Zadar returned to the Yugoslavian league for good. Led by legendary point guard Giuseppe Giergia they started their successufull run and when the final piece of the puzzle ( another legend, center Kresimir Cosic ) was added, this run eventually culminated with championships in 1965, 1967 and 1968. National championship led to European championship competition which exposed the rest of the Europe to Zadar's "lucid basketball dance" as described by one of the sports reporters of the time.

After the third championship in 1968 Kresimir Cosic went to United States to play at the Brigham Young Unniversity and Giuseppe Giergia left for Italy as a player/coach. Obviously losing two legends had serious consequences for the team and Zadar struggled in National competition for a few years. This all turned around after Cosic and Giergia reunited in 1973. Right away Zadar dominated the competition and took two more national championships in a row, 1974 and 1975.

The one in 1975 was the most dominant diplay of basketball ever seen in Yugoslavia. They cruised through what was the strongest league in Europe at the time, and ended up with a 25 - 1 record. The only loss came against the team from Split in round one. After that loss Zadar won 25 straight, allowing opponents only 72 points per game for the season and on the offensive end scoring almost 90 points per game, in a no three point era, shooting 53 %25 from the field. What made these successes even more impressive was the fact that all of the players on the team were from Zadar region. There were no expensive hired guns on that team, and no matter how much money any other team spent on players it made no difference against Zadar. 1974/75 season will remain as one of the most dominating performances ever seen in basketball.