Basketball in Georgia has seen significant growth, with increasing participation at both the grassroots and professional levels. The country’s national teams have made notable progress, establishing Georgia as a competitive force in international basketball.

Georgian Players in Professional Basketball, 2023-24

Goga BitadzeCenterNBAIndiana PacersSagarejo, Georgia

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History of Basketball in Georgia

Basketball in Georgia boasts a rich history, deeply rooted in the country’s cultural and athletic traditions. The sport was introduced in the early 20th century and quickly gained popularity, becoming a key part of Georgia’s sports culture.

The origins of basketball in Georgia date back to the Soviet era, when the sport was introduced by Russian educators and coaches. Initially, basketball was primarily played in schools and local clubs, but it soon spread across the country, gaining a substantial following.

With the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Georgia gained independence, marking a new era for Georgian basketball. The country established its own basketball federation, the Georgian Basketball Federation (GBF), which became the governing body for the sport. The GBF focused on developing the sport at all levels, from youth programs to professional leagues.

The 2000s marked a period of significant achievement for Georgian basketball on the international stage. The national teams began participating in various European competitions, with notable performances that elevated Georgia’s status in the basketball community. The men’s national team qualified for the EuroBasket tournament for the first time in 2011, a milestone that showcased the progress and potential of Georgian basketball.

Georgian Players in the NBA

Georgia has produced several talented players who have made their mark in the NBA. These players have not only brought recognition to Georgian basketball but have also inspired future generations of athletes.

Goga Bitadze is one of the prominent Georgian players in the NBA. Born in Sagarejo, Georgia, Bitadze’s journey to the NBA is a testament to his skill and determination. Standing at 7 feet tall, Bitadze plays as a center for the Indiana Pacers. He was selected 18th overall in the 2019 NBA Draft, becoming the first Georgian player to be drafted in the first round since Nikoloz Tskitishvili in 2002.

Bitadze’s impact on the Pacers has been significant, with his defensive prowess and rebounding abilities making him a valuable asset to the team. His presence in the NBA has helped raise the profile of Georgian basketball internationally.

Tornike Shengelia, another notable Georgian player, has made significant contributions in the EuroLeague and the NBA. Born in Tbilisi, Shengelia currently plays for Virtus Bologna in the EuroLeague. He had a brief stint in the NBA with the Brooklyn Nets and the Chicago Bulls. Shengelia’s versatility and leadership have made him a standout player, both domestically and internationally.

Role of Women’s Basketball in Georgia

Women’s basketball in Georgia has been steadily developing, with increasing participation and support at the grassroots level. While the country has yet to produce a WNBA player, the efforts to promote and enhance women’s basketball are evident.

The Georgian Basketball Federation has been actively involved in promoting women’s basketball through various initiatives, including youth development programs, local leagues, and school competitions. These efforts aim to nurture young talent and provide opportunities for female athletes to pursue their passion for basketball.

The Georgian women’s national basketball team has been making strides in regional competitions, gaining valuable experience and exposure. Participation in tournaments such as the FIBA Women’s European Championship for Small Countries has been instrumental in the team’s development. These competitions provide a platform for Georgian players to compete at a higher level and showcase their skills.

Despite the progress, women’s basketball in Georgia faces challenges, including limited resources and support compared to men’s basketball. However, the growing interest and participation at the grassroots level are positive signs for the future. With continued investment and support, women’s basketball in Georgia has the potential to achieve greater success and recognition.