By Moisi Dalipi
Memorie.al / Viktor Papavangjeli, even though he has left behind 73 years of his life and has been away from the basketball playing field for almost 33 years, everyone who meets him in Vlora greets him with great pleasure and warmth. And it happens so, because everything that he formed in his sports career, in the framework of the years 1965-1985, was really something special that anyone, when he moves his age and thoughts from the place, very quickly creates the portrait of a giant of true on the playing field, which many times turned the basketball of the time into an art in itself. Many epithets, my value and sports nicknames, have been used by specialists and people in the print and electronic media, to bring an approach to his talent, with this handball game, but in our opinion, in the summary of everything that means assessment, we chose as the most appropriate and for the title of the article the words: “The artist” of the basket, Viktor Papavangjeli.
This basketball player was really like that, for the time he played he was many steps ahead of others. And this progress was not given by his superiority over others, where his height was 1.93 cm., but also by the energy he poured into the playing field, the way he scored from every distance and position, that whole artistic collage, how the basketball obeyed his wishes during the game and up to the citizenry he showed in his relationships with teammates, opponents and fans. All this places the basketball ‘pro’, coach and citizen Viktor Papavangjeli in a very attractive frame.
The beginnings and the explosion of the talent Papavangjeli
Like many others, Viktor got his start in sports in the years of his childhood, in the streets and squares of his neighborhood, even though his father, a mechanic known for the Gjirokastrite orgy in Vlora, wanted to give the brother of his two sisters, a slightly different craft. Athletics, swimming and volleyball were the sports that attracted him the most in those years. And it would be that group of boys in love with basketball, at the “Halim Xhelo” gymnasium in Vlora in those years, which would include the tall boy, Viktor Papavangjeli.
The trainers from Vlonia in those years, Elmaz Agalliu, Agron Kosova and Ilo Taska, seeing his physical abilities, oriented him to the sport of basketball. Only 16 years old, in 1965, and this boy will be part of the youth team of “Flamurtar”. Even though he was taller than his friends, his speed in actions would give him the place of the starter in the team. Failure to complete higher studies forces him to work for a year as a generalist at the Automotive Goods Park in Vlora. For more than two seasons, he will be part of this youth team, because in the fall of 1967, he will “walk” towards the capital, Tirana.
The Vlonja student of the Higher Institute of Physical Culture “Vojo Kushi”, in the sports environment, was not well known and since the first season, he plays with “Dinamon”, a team that, at that time, was composed of students dedicated to the sport of basketball. The coach of “Dinamo” at that time, Muhamet Përmeti, will make Papavangjeli part of that talented team; Doda, Rusi, Shano, Llazani, Peja, Trabicka, etc., thus forming a team, very attractive for the time, that would rival the greats of the tradition “Partizan”, “17 November”, “Vllaznina” and “Lokomotiva” Durrës.
Although the specialists ignored him at the beginning, the basketball player with a lot of future, Papavangjeli, has a fast, even extraordinary progress and in 1968, his career starts in the best possible way. This caused his appearance to attract everyone’s attention, as a great talent, but previously undiscovered, from the one who made the “law” even in sports, to take on anyone and at any time. “Dinamo”, not only did not let go of his “jewel”, but trusted him in every match, the place of the protagonist player in the team, with the starter’s jersey with the number ten.
Viktor Papavangjeli, is the first basketball player, who was able to put the ball in the basket with two hands, applying a very favorite and characteristic style for caliber players, a model of American NBA players. In the role of a side center, strong on the board, in attack and defense, Papavangjeli, possessed a very beautiful shot, with a perfect style and an extraordinary jump, almost flying, when the jumpability of catching the object at the height was 3.56 cm.
Very elegant, a beautiful body played and faced giant opponents. Such an action, which was spectacular, was due to his powerful jump, which he performed in the actions with the ball. In the years 1967-1970, when Viktor Papavangjeli was part of “Dinamo”, the rivalry in men’s basketball was very serious. “Partizani” and “17 November”, “Vllaznia”, “Lokomotiva”, “Studenti”, for every match between them, it was a sports battle until the last seconds.
Papavangjelit at “Dinamo” gives life to the championship, especially the capital derby, which, like in no other country in the world, had five teams, together with “Dajti”, playing in the first category. But he had just started playing and being the protagonist of these great challenges, just when his explosion was growing, as a very well-known character with a future, his return to Vlora comes. To his beloved “Flamurtari”, but he never forgets, to return to Tirana, when “Partizani” was gathering for European cups and matches with the national team.
Returning to the ‘Flagman’ and the ‘record’ of scored points
In the fall of 1970, the men’s basketball team of “Flamurtri” will climb to the First Category. Meanwhile, Viktor Papavangjeli has left the capital and is in Vlora, at the service of his hometown team. Together with Papavangjeli, the team includes: Pajtim Resuli, Eqrem Muharremi, Gaqo Angjeli, Edmond Luzi, Vladimir Birçe, Imer Yzeri, Shefqet Veliu and later Astrit Birçe, Agim Dalipi, Spiro Vjero, Arben Golemi, Viron Toska and others that make the team from Vlonia, rivals of “Labinot”, “Lokomotiva”, “Skenderbeu”, “Student” and why not, and “Vllaznia” and “Dinamo”.
There are many examples of matches and interesting confrontations, where the fans from Vlonia would go to the match just to see the sports spectacle, which the “artist” of the basket, Viktor Papavangjeli, would give on the field of play. Elegance, finesse and the spawn of an exquisite fantasy with the ball, at every moment of the game. Points scored in those moments that the team needs and unlimited applause from the fans present. A player of wide caliber, Viktor Papavangjeli, who feels in sports form in every field where he plays even outside of Vlora, and faces every opponent.
Even though it was very clear that his “Flamurtari” had a hard time winning against Agim Fagu’s “Partizan” and Vaso Shaka’s “17 Subs” and Zef Gjon’s “Vllazniza”, this did not mean at all that Papavangjeli, do not do his task well and beautifully, scoring as many points as possible. And it is not too much to say that there were special matches, where Viktor Papavangjeli scored up to half the amount of points scored in the match by his team.
But in some matches the quota of points scored by him reached 45 points. Although there is no accurate record of the points scored by different basketball players in their career, from the calculations that are made, it turns out that; Viktor Papavangjeli, in his career in the years 1965-1981, turns out to have scored more than 10,000 points.
“The fact that in the 1970s-1980s, this basketball player was part of the best scorers of the championships, is one more reason to believe that the stack of points scored by Viktor Papavangjeli could possibly be even more, but less, in no way”, says the famous former basketball referee, Virgjil Karaj.
A detailed calculation, there is a good chance that Viktor Papavangjeli will rightfully be given the record of points scored in the history of Albanian basketball. For several years, he plays as a player and also leads the team as a coach. But after he finished playing basketball, at the age of 36, in the years 1985-1990, he led the men’s team of “Flamurtari”, bringing out many quality elements and a little later, an inspector at the multi-sport club “Flamurtari” of Vlora .
Rich archive of international matches
In the span of 1970-1980, Viktor Papavangjeli was an indisputable player in the national team and a special starter in all the activities he participated in, being at the same time one of its main scorers. Thus, in the European Championship of 1969, which took place in Hungary and where Albania plays in a strong group together with Turkey, France, Hungary and Poland, with 44 points scored, Viktor Papavangjeli ranks fifth in the list of points markers.
His good appearance is also the University Games of Turin, the 18th edition, in August 1970, where the rivalry in the meeting Albania – Yugoslavia 72-74 is highlighted, where he together with Agim Fagun, were absolute. Full of impressions for this basketball player, it is with the friendly tour in China, or Sardinia in Italy.
Protagonist also in the Olympic tournament, in Harlem of the Netherlands, with the meetings Albania-Belgium 82-83, Albania-Czechoslovakia 69-88 and Albania-Netherlands 81-84, where Fagu, Kushtrim Zaçe, Bujar Shehu, Papavangjeli and Vaso Shaka have an extraordinary figure.
His outstanding appearance in 1976, in the match with the Greek representative, where the local press, based on his last name, labeled him of Greek origin, but was not accepted by the player himself. For “Partizan”, in the participation in the European Cups, Viktor Papavangjeli, from Vlonia, has been the most preferred player as reinforcement in international matches. And he made his debut with the military team in 1969, in Shkodër, where “Partizani” played with “Dinamo” of Bucharest, for the Champions Cup.
Then come the challenges against “Cervena Zvezda” (“Red Star” of Belgrade) and in the two historic qualifications in the Champions Cup, against the Hungarians “Čepel”, where he scores 11 points and “Sparta Bertranzh” – (Luxembourg), in the composition with the Americans, where Papavangjeli from Vlonja, scores 17 points, while in the return match, he excels in covering the tall Frenchman, Mutter, with a height of 2.04 cm. Also not forgetting the duels in the Champions Cup, with the double challenges against “Vinerberg” – Austria, in which Papavangjeli scored 18 points.
Unforgettable will remain the match for the Cup of Cups, the confrontation with “Aspo – Tours” of France, where Fagu, Papavangjeli, Mushi, Zaçe, emerge victorious in the table and against giants such as; Meniard 2.08 cm. and Boven 2.06 cm.
In the meeting in Tirana, Papavangjeli scores the 83-80 victory basket, but “Partizani” is eliminated after losing 101-76, in the return challenge. The years 1970-1980, are the years when “Partizan” faced “Oransoda”, “Zadar”, “Jugoplastika”, “Cervena Zvezda”, “Partizan – Belgrade”, “Sparta”, “Cepel”, or “Banco-Roma” ‘ and “Sinudine”, which consisted of giant, famous and successful players, who made a name for themselves in world and European basketball.
And in this list, among many teams, we would single out the confrontations between “Partizani” – Tirana and “Crvena Zvezda” – Belgrade, in 1972, an opposing team composed of tall players and scorers such as: Kapicic, Slavnic and Simonovic. From the sports press, we learn that; “Partizan started the match with Fag, Papavangjeli, Zace, Pal, Mushi. And in the end: “Partizani” loses 78-89, and after Agim Fagu, it’s Viktor Papavangjeli who scores 16 points”.
However, in these matches and many others like these that outline his sports career, the strength, talent and high technique of Viktor Papavangjeli, who has known how to turn the sport of basketball into an art of its own, shines brightly and beautifully.
Viktor Papavangjeli’s file
Born: in Vlora, on 25.11.1949
Type of sport played: Basketball
Career as a sportsman: The youth team of “Flamurtari” in the years
1965-1967, “Dinamo” in 1967-1970 and “Flamurtari” 1970-1985, as well as part of the national team and with the “Partizan” team in the European Cups in 1969-1980.
Number on the jersey: 10
Matches played: about 450 matches
Scored points: about 12 thousand points
Coaching career: In the years 1985-1990 with the “Flamurtari” team
Awards: With Medals: “Master of Sports”, “Outstanding Personality in Sports”, “Grand Master” and “Honorary Citizen of Vlora”./ Memorie.al