50 litas 2011 Lithuania – coin dedicated to basketball
50 litas proof coin with box.
Gold Au 999
Diameter 16.25 mm, Weight 3.1 g
Issued in 2011
The reverse of the coin features a stylized basketball ball and the inscription 2011 EUROPOS KREPŠINIO ČEMPIONATAS (European Basketball Championship 2011).
The obverse of the coin features a stylized basketball ball and an image of the Coat of Arms of the Republic of Lithuania (Vytis). Below is the inscription LIETUVA, 50 LITŲ (50 litas), and the year of issue—2011.
S pringfield University physical education instructor James Naismith, who drew up the first rules of a new game, basketball in 1891, just wished to think up an indoor game for his students during winter when harsh weather conditions prevent from taking exercise outdoors. In the 20th century, basketball crossed the borders of all countries to become a most popular game across the world and a rallying passion and national pride for the population of the small country Lithuania located on the Baltic Sea. Symbolically, the 2011 European Basketball Championship in Lithuania coincides with this game’s 120th anniversary celebration across the world.
23 April 1922 is considered the birthday of Lithuanian basketball. On that day, the first official match between the city team and the Lithuanian Physical Education Union’s team took place in Kaunas. The legendary Lithuanian pilot Steponas Darius, who afterwards flew across the Atlantic together with Stasys Girėnas, contributed to the fame of basketball as well. Through his efforts, a basketball rulebook was published in Lithuanian. Since then, interest has been taken in this game. Winning two European championships before World War Two (in 1937 and 1939) made the citizens of the re-established state of Lithuania feel full members of Europe.
The year 1937 represents the first date in the chronicle of Lithuanian basketballs’ most glorious victories. The Lithuanian team went to that year’s championship in Riga as outsiders and returned as the champions of Europe. Already in the first match Lithuania defeated one of the-then best teams, Italy, but that was the beginning of the sensation only. The rivals – Estonia, Egypt, Poland and, in the finals, Italy again stumbled against the Lithuanian team one after another. The European Champion’s title was brought to Lithuania. The 1937 victory in the Riga Sports Hall became as if a starting point, it granted the right to organise the 1939 European Championship in Lithuania. A new arena, Kaunas Sports Hall was built specially for this tournament. While playing at home, Lithuanian basketball players repeated the march of triumph to become the champions of Europe for a second consecutive time. The wins of the men’s team fuelled a real basketball and Lithuanian entire sports boom: sports clubs and teams were established; new basketball courts and football fields were built. In an effort not to lag behind men, women basketball players became silver medallists of the European Championship in Rome in 1938.