A Guide To Basketball In France

Basketball may have been invented in the United States, but its popularity has spread worldwide, and European countries like France are no exception. Basketball does not hold in comparison to football but is one of France’s five most popular sports and has a long-standing history in the country.

The French basketball team is one of the most competitive teams in Europe and is a prominent participant in international competitions. This article offers a brief insight into the history of basketball in France and its current status in the country.

History of basketball in France

Basketball was introduced in France shortly after its invention in December 1891. France was one of the pioneer countries that introduced the sport in Europe. The first basketball game in Europe was played in Paris in 1883. The country’s youth were greatly influenced by the American culture and liked the sport very much. 

The French national basketball team played its first international match in April 1926 against Italy. The French Basketball Federation (FFBB) was established in 1932. The French team led the European competitions in the 1930s, and its dominance continued even after World War II.

The French basketball team made their first appearance in the Olympics in 1936, but it was not until 1948 that the team won its first silver medal after losing to the United States. However, the team achieved success in the Eurobasket in 1937 and won third place. The 1940s and 50s were a golden era for the French basketball team as it secured a silver medal in the Eurobasket in 1949 and won bronze in 1951 and 1953. 

However, the era was short-lived, and the 1960s and 70s marked a low period as France’s basketball performance declined, and it was unable to compete in any major world events; until the 70s, no basketball games were aired on TV, and people did not show much interest in the sport either.

Things began to improve in the 1980s when France returned to the Olympics in 1984 and took part in the FIBA World Championship in 1986. Basketball has come a long way since its revival in the 80s, and today France has one of the strongest basketball teams in Europe. The French have also grown very fond of the game, which is evident from high attendance at basketball events. Many French players have gone to play in the NBA, and today, France has the highest number of basketball players in the NBA after the USA and Canada.

France is all set to host the Olympics and Paralympic Games in 2024, and basketball will be an important feature of the events.

French National Basketball Team

The French men’s national basketball team is currently in 5th place in the FIBA rankings. The team’s most notable achievement to date is winning the EuroBasket competition in 2013. The team has appeared in 39 EuroBasket events, and besides the gold medal in 2013, it has won 3 silver medals and 6 bronze medals. The latest achievement was the team’s appearance in the finals of the EuroBasket 2022, where it lost to Spain by 88-76.

The team has appeared in 10 Summer Olympic Games and won the silver medal thrice in 1948, 2000 and 2020. The men’s team also secured third place in the FIBA World Championship in 2014 and 2019. 

The French women’s national basketball team is also one of the strongest in Europe and placed 6th in the FIBA rankings. The team has been playing internationally since 1938. The team has participated in the Olympics four times and won a silver medal in 2012 and a bronze medal in 2020. It also won a bronze in the World Championship in 1953. 

The women’s team has also participated in 33 EuroBasket events and won gold on two occasions, in 2001 and 2009. Besides the gold, the team has won 8 silver medals and one bronze medal. Its most recent achievement is the silver medal in EuroBasket 2021. 

Domestic Basketball competitions in France

The Ligue Nationale de basket is France’s official governing body for professional club basketball. It oversees the affairs of the LNB Pro A and LNB Pro B, the top professional leagues in the country, and also organises domestic basketball competitions, including the Leaders Cup, LNB Al-Star Game and Match des Champions.

The LNB Pro A is the highest professional basketball league in France. It was established in 1921, and currently, 18 teams are a part of it, one of which is from Monaco. Every season, the worst two teams from the Pro A are relegated to the Pro B, the second-highest professional league in the country. The LNB Pro B was founded in 1932, and like the Pro A, it comprises 18 teams. 

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