1982: the USSR defeats the USA at the end of the suspense

1982: the USSR defeats the USA at the end of the suspense

MIES (Switzerland) – Colombia hosted the 1982 FIBA ​​Basketball World Cup, a competition in which Molten balls made their first appearance. Once again, the USSR and Yugoslavia hosted most of the discussion before the start of the tournament.

These two nations had indeed shared the last four world titles and they were obviously among the favorites to lift the trophy at the end of the event.

The Soviets posing with the trophy following their consecration in the final against the USA (95–94)

This edition of the FIBA ​​Basketball World Cup – then known as the FIBA ​​World Championship – had a lot to offer. The USA fielded a competitive team with several future NBA stars, including Doc Rivers, while Spain were very well led by Juan Antonio San Epifanio, nicknamed “Epi”, and the USSR introduced the world the extremely promising young (17 years old) Arvydas Sabonis.

Colombia were among the underdogs as hosts despite their lack of experience in the event and they automatically qualified for the seven-team second round.

The other teams that participated in this 2nd round are: Spain (3-0) and USA (2-1) from Group A, USSR (3-0) and Australia (2-1) from Group B, and Yugoslavia (3- 0) and Canada (2-1) from Group C.

One of the matches of the first round that aroused the greatest interest was the confrontation between Spain and the USA. The Spaniards were able to count on Epi’s 28 points to beat the USA (109-99) and finish top of Group A.

Australia, for their part, had to resort to extra time to overcome Brazil (75-73), a result that allowed them to clinch 2nd place in Group B, eliminating Brazil at the same time.

In Group C, Canada won against Czechoslovakia after a great tussle (104-99), ensuring its 2nd place behind Yugoslavia.

Yugoslavia precisely, despite its triumph in the previous edition, had to participate in the first round. She convincingly won her matches against Czechoslovakia, Uruguay and Canada.

Although his impact on the game was not great then, Soviet giant Sabonis (2.21m) made his FIBA ​​Basketball World Cup debut.

“I was very surprised to be selected”he admits in the documentary dedicated to the history of the FIBA ​​Basketball World Cup made in 2019.

Among the most notable results of this 2nd round organized in Cali, it is necessary to point out the victory of the USA against Yugoslavia (88-81). The reigning world champions also lost against the USSR (94-99), while the Americans got the better of the Soviets (99-93).

USA have won all five of their second round matches. As the results of the first round against the other qualified teams were preserved, the USA finished the phase with a record of 5-1 (they had lost against Spain), the same as the USSR. Thus, the final pitted the USA against the USSR.

Yugoslavia and Spain, authors of a balance sheet of 4-2, they disputed the 3rd place.

The USA fought very well and came very close to overthrowing the USSR in the final, with a narrow defeat (94–95) in the end.

In a match that was decided in the very last moments, the American Rivers had a chance to offer the title to the USA on a last shot, but his failure sealed the score of the meeting (95-94) in favor of the USSR, which won its 3rd world title in the last 5 editions.

Coached by the member of the FIBA ​​Hall of Fame Ranko Zeravica, Yugoslavia was also very hot to win at the end of the suspense against Spain (119-117) and climb on the 3rd step of the podium.




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