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Macedonia: Euphoria After Basketball Victory Over Greece

Celebrations erupted among Macedonians worldwide after the national team beat Greece at the European Basketball Championship of 2011 – EuroBasket 2011 in Lithuania – the first such victory ever in the history of international sport.

The victory for the Macedonian national team with 72:58 at EuroBasket 2011 was a big surprise, since the Greek national team “is considered among the world's top basketball powers; they were runners-up in the 2006 FIBA World Championship and they have won the European Championship twice, in 1987 and 2005,” according to Wikipedia.

� вака им �е покаж�ва ��еден п��� на ���и�е #makbasket #Skopj... on TwitpicSoon after the game ended early Satuday evening, the jubilant flag-waving fans filled the public spaces of Macedonian cities and towns. Sport!Denes (Sport!Today) published a photo gallery [mk] from the main square in Skopje.

A Croatian media outlet 24 sata (24 hours) reported [hr] immediately after the match:

The story of the day is the Macedonian win over their southern neighbors, whose [political pressure] forces them to use the designation “Former Yugoslav Republic of” in front of their name. Even though the players do not want to talk politics, they claim this is the dearest victory of their careers.

- “It's crazy now in Skopje and the whole Macedonia, everybody goes to the main square to celebrate this” – Todor Gečevski said, while Pero Antić added:

- “We shall celebrate Independence Day on September 8, and they might build another monument for us on account of this.”

The best player of the game for Macedonia was African-American Bo McCalleb. Specialized basketball blog NBA Macedonia declared [mk] that he's “The Greatest Macedonian.” *

A screenshot from MakNBA blog featuring Bo McCalleb.

A screenshot from MakNBA blog featuring Bo McCalleb.

Twitter (the main hashtag: #makbasket) and Facebook buzzed with comments. Many Macedonian social media users expressed joy with dignity, while others used triumphant nationalist “in your face, Greece” rhetoric.

Right after the game, Azder wrote [mk]:

#makbasket should be celebrated with going to a town square. Please suggest a square with space for people, instead of statues.

Twitter profile photo with Bo McCallebDavorvori9, who changed his profile photo to one with Bo McCalleb, wrote [mk] a few hours later:

I can't remember when I was so euphoric and happy, possibly never. Thank you for this, guys! #makbasket

Roberto Belicanec wrote on Facebook (reprinted with permission):

YEAAH ! We won! Hm – let me explain something to you. Five athletes won over five other athletes while you where turning beer into the piss. – Bill Maher!
But still, this is quite nice :)

And Ivica Anteski retorted (also reprinted with permission):

Our diplomacy will be as strong when we take a Black person for Minister of Foreign Affairs :)

Cchevymk proposed [mk] a new basketball-inspired country car sticker, using [mk] clipart by Rosie Piter, and DzikiKikiriki refered [mk] to the first Greek reactions, linking to an article in E Kathimerini:

Well now it is not our fault that the Greek Government did not have money to send Greek fans to Lithuania…

Border blockade

The next morning, a group of several dozens angry Greek citizens, who allegedly came on several buses, blocked the main border pass towards Macedonia. Reports [mk] by PlusInfo.mk portal claimed the mob consisted of nationalists (according to the signs they displayed), including neo-Nazis or skinheads.

The Greek police redirected Macedonian travelers to other border crossings for a few hours to prevent confrontations, and the crossing was unblocked [mk] without additional incidents.

Victory over Finland, too

During the afternoon, Macedonia also won the game with Finland, and darko_avr refered to an old internet joke based on famous advertisement (“Nokia – Connecting People”) and a favorite Balkan spirit when he tweeted:

Rakia 72 – Nokia 70

Karakash_MakNBA commented [mk] on this much harder won game:

Either due to fatigue, or due to physical or emotional effect of yesterday's victory, or maybe due to getting wasted last night (who knows), the Macedonian team had a hard time with Finland. Even though they are not as weak and naive a team, as everybody thought so before the match. Especially if they start a good shooting series, they are no joke.

Teams that are hard to define and and play fast basketball, without much boloney, are the hardest opponents.

As both Greece and Finland are EU members, Parmakovski joked [mk]:

After today's blockade of [Evzoni], I'm afraid if we win the championship, EU could forever block us from the [Schengen Area]…

This victory, alongside the previous unexpected win over Croatia and continued good showings could result in participation at least in the quarter-finals, according to the analysеs (1, 2) [mk] by angelov480048.

Kuzevski also provided [mk] some applied analysis:

Let's all jointly support Greece and Croatia, since if they win their next games Macedonia would get 4 points in the next group…

Sead93 concured [mk]:

We survived the Hangover Game well enough, we should all most patriotically root for Greece (because it suits our score in the tournament)…

In conclusion MarjanIvanovski informed [mk] about a unquestionably positive consequence, regardless of nationality:

The neighborhood kids immediately gathered to play some basketball :)). There's no better advertisement and greater motivation than an achieved result…

* Note:

Success of multi-ethnic Macedonian national team runs contrary to the ideology of ethnic nationalism, and the irony seems lost on the Macedonian nationalists, who wholeheartedly partake in the celebrations. Like their other Balkans brothers-in-hate, they often use slogans such as “clean Macedonia,” and value “purity” of assumed genetic lineages. Even though the mainstream Macedonian nationalism is not explicitly racist in the color-of-skin sort of way, some of its propagators lean toward white supremacy, like in the film about God's message to Macedonians [mk] by Niche Dimovski, repeatedly aired on the state TV after the current regime took power. It includes claims that prehistoric Macedonians are progenitors of the “White Race”:

[Voice of God:] “I inhabited your Mother Earth with three races: the White – Makedonoids, the Yellow – Mongoloids, and the Black – Negrids. The rest are all mulattoes. I started the White race from you, the Macedonians, descendants of Macedon, and from you all began, till the Japanese Sea.”

Other nationalist products often refer to a genetics study about “Sub-Saharan” (i.e. recent African) origins of modern Greeks to “prove” that Macedonians are older and more indigenous people.

Still, examples of racial violence have been rare in the recent Macedonian history, possibly because not too many dark-skinned people immigrate to Macedonia on account of its depressed economy. There have been football incidents of racial abuse, though, and a chant mentions “Goce‘s race.” Most regular citizens would say [mk] that “there's no racism in Macedonia.”

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