Diehard Sixers fans abound in Spain

BILBAO, Spain - Aritz Urra and Erik Vega thought their dream had been shattered.

Natives of San Sebastian, Spain, the longtime 76ers fans were unable to see their favorite team play in Barcelona in 2006.

"It would have cost us at least 100 euros [$135]," Vega said. "That was too expensive." 

Seven years later, they got their wish. 

"Now, today is a good day," Urra said. "It's an amazing day."

The two cousins were sitting in the front row for Sunday's preseason game between the Sixers and Bilbao Basket at Bizkaia Arena. They were decked out in No. 3 Allen Iverson Sixers jerseys. Urra had on a blue one, and Vega wore a white one. Two hours before the game, Vega and Urra were at the arena making a sign that read: "We Miss You AI3 Go! Sixers!!" 

"We've been following the Sixers and Allen Iverson since 2001," Urra said. "That's the same year he won the MVP and scored 48 points against the Lakers.

"Then when he left the Sixers and went to Denver, we still followed the Sixers."

Nowadays, their favorite players are Evan Turner, Jason Richardson, and rookie Nerlens Noel. 

The cousins' love for the Sixers isn't uncommon in Spain.

They are the fourth-most followed team in this country behind the Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics, and Memphis Grizzlies, according to a Spanish reporter. 

"People have been extremely welcoming," Sixers coach Brett Brown said of the visit to Bilbao. "I think some of it is their general nature and the culture of the country.

"But I think a lot of it is there are genuine Sixers fans here in the community."