We are recalling all foreign players that have ever played in the League, telling about foreign championships and National teams of different countries in World basketball map project. Today we’re going to talk about basketball in Iceland.
The first Icelander in the history of VTB United League is Hordur Vilhjalmsson. In 2015/16 season the guard was playing for Nymburk, and i 2017/18 for Astana. Overall, Vilhjalmsson spent 14 games in VTB League averaging 4,6 points, 1,9 assists per game. Today he plays in Icelandic championship and combines it with women basketball team head coach assistant position.
One more player from Reykjavik is Hakur Palsson, he was playing for UNICS in 19/20 season. Forward, plays for Iceland National team since the age of 19, spent 8 games in VTB United League with averages of 5,9 points and 2,0 rebounds.
Hakur Palsson and Hordur Vilhjalmsson were Iceland leaders on Eurobasket in 2015 and 2017. Palsson was second best scorer in both competitions, Vilhjalmsson was second in assists in 2017 and third in efficiency.
Basketball in Iceland
League: Úrvalsdeild karla (Domino’s deildin)
Founded: in 1952
Number of teams: 12
League’s web-site: http://www.kki.is/
Basketball in Iceland is divided into divisions. The higher division (Úrvalsdeild karla) has 12 teams, in the second strongest division (Division 1) there are 10 teams, in third (Division 2) – 11 teams, and in 4th (Division 3) – 7 clubs. Moreover, there are Iceland Cup (Bikarkeppni KKÍ) and Iceland SuperCup (Meistarakeppni karla).
Throughout 69-year history 7 different teams have become Iceland champions. Top three titled teams are: KR (18 titles), Njarðvík (17 titles) and ÍR (15).
Icelandic basketball has bright, emotional moments:
Only 4 people work in Icelandic Basketball Association office:
Icelandic championship (Úrvalsdeild karla) has individual awards: Best Icelandic player of the year, Best foreign player of the year, Play-off MVP, Defensive player of the year, Rookie of the year and coach of the year. Moreover, Icelandic Basketball Association annually awards best basketball player in Iceland (both – male and female).
Iceland is a place, where Aaron Broussard (Nizhny Novgorod, 2018), Tobin Carberry (Avtodor, 2019-20) and 3-time Euroleague champion Kostas Tsartsaris started their professional careers.
In 1994/95 season in Iceland the most high-scoring All-Star Game in history was held. The game took place in Reykjavik and ended with 199:198 (2OT) on the board.
Iceland National team
FIBA rank: 46
FIBA members: since 1959
Achievements: 2-time small countries champions (1988, 1990), 2 Eurobasket participations (2015, 2017)
Iceland became FIBA members in 1959 and won its very first game outplaying Denmark on the road – 41:38.
Throughout many years Icelanders were successful on small countries tournaments but 2 participations on Eurobasket are considered the biggest success. Although Iceland National team has never won on big international tournaments (0 wins – 10 losses in 2 tournaments) «Our Boys» (orig. – Strákarnir okkar) have already become one of the main surprises in FIBA competitions in recent years.
At the moment, National team of the country with the population of 364 thousand people is ranked 46 by FIBA outpacing competitive Estonia, Bulgaria, Sweden and other countries.
The most famous Icelandic players in the history
Petur Gudmundsson. The only Icelander in the NBA history, 61st pick of 1981 NBA Draft. Gudmundsson spent there 4 seasons playing for Portland, Lakers and San-Antonio. In 2001 he was awarded with the status of Best Icelandic player of 20th century.
Jon Stefansson. 12-time Best player of the year in Iceland, 5-time Iceland champion, Athlete of the year in Iceland (2014). in 2005 Jon Stefansson won FIBA EuroChallenge as Dinamo player.
Martin Hermannsson. 4-time Best basketball player of the year in Iceland, 2-time Iceland champion. In 2020 25-year-old guard won Germany Cup and German championship being an Alba player, moreover he became the only representative of his country in Euroleague 2019/20.
Jon Gislason. 4-time Best basketball player of the year in Iceland, 3-time Iceland champion, 2-time Iceland Cup winner. He won championship title 3 times and Iceland Cup 2 times as coach-player. In 2001 he was included in All-Iceland starting five of 20th century.
Valur Ingimundarson. 2-time Best basketball player of the year in Iceland, 8-time Iceland champion, 2-time Iceland Cup winner. Iceland National team leader in points (7355). In 2001 was included in All-Iceland starting five of 20th century.