Local international basketball referee Bernard Vassallo received a very prominent international designation when he was nominated by FIBA as one of the sixteen neutral referees, apart from the accompanying referees, for the 2021 FIBA European Championships for senior women, better known as Eurobasket Women.
Sixteen participating countries will compete in these championships, to be held in the French city of Strasbourg and the Spanish city of Valencia in June.
These are Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Greece, Italy, Montenegro, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Turkey.
This is a prestigious nomination for Vassallo, as well as for Maltese basketball and sport, and his second Eurobasket experience after that in the 2011 edition held in Poland.
Commenting on this latest nomination, Vassallo said: “I feel proud to be once again entrusted, even now at my age and coming from a very small basketball nation like Malta, with the opportunity to somewhat share again, after 2011, such an experience. I am extremely humbled yet honoured to be nominated for these European Finals and to represent once more my small island.”
Vassallo, who turned 50 earlier in the year, is in his final international season due to the referee age limit following an impressive tally of 25 seasons and nearing 500 official games of international basketball after starting off his FIBA career way back in 1996.
Amongst the highlights, apart from these Eurobasket events, one can mention the Commonwealth Games final, EuroLeague Women Final 8 and the bronze medal games in European Final Championships under 20 Women and under 18 Men and Women.