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World Basketball Championships Begin Thursday in US

The World Basketball championships are set to tip off later Thursday in the mid-western U.S. state of Indiana. The tournament is beginning with music and celebrations.

Organizers call it the Tip-Off Celebration, the official opening ceremony of the 14th World Basketball Championships. The opening festivities featuring music and celebrities were held Wednesday in the Pan American Plaza, the square built to commemorate the 1987 Pan American Games hosted by Indianapolis.

Basketball was born in the United States, and the state of Indiana is perhaps the richest in terms of basketball history. It is where some of the game's great players like Larry Bird and Oscar Robertson first dribbled a ball, and where college basketball at Indiana University ruled for years.

The Indianapolis tournament marks the first time the World Basketball Championships are being hosted by the United States. The 52-year-old event is held every four years and features 16 nations playing 62 games in 11 days. The championship is on September 8.

Games will be played in the massive RCA Dome and nearby Conseco Field House. The first three days feature eight games each, including appearances by the host United States and defending champion Yugoslavia.