BASKETBALL IN OLYMPICS 1972, U.S.S.R vs U.S.A

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Basketboll

Longest 3 seconds in the Sports. It`s the most controversial basketball game in Olympic history.

One of the greatest controversies in the history of international sports took place in Munich in the early morning hours of Sunday, September 10. The United States entered the final match with a record of 62 wins and no losses in Olympic basketball competition. The game began at 11:45 p.m., in order to accommodate U.S. television. One of the American team’s strengths was speed, but the United States coach, Hank lba, chose not to exploit it, ordering his squad to play at a more cautious and deliberate pace instead.

The U.S.S.R. scored first, led 26-21 at the half, and was ahead by eight points with 6:07 to play. But then the United States applied a full-court press and the Soviet team began to crumble. Nonetheless, with six seconds to play, the Soviets had the ball and clung to a one-point lead. Then Soviet star Sasha Belov inadvertently threw the ball toward Doug Collins of Illinois State. With three seconds left, Collins was fouled intentionally by Sako Sakandelidze. In fact, he was fouled so hard that he momentarily lost consciousness. Dazed, he mechanically followed his free throw’. routine—”three dribbles, a little spin, and then shoot”—and coolly sank two free throws to give the United States its first lead of the game, 50-49. The Soviet team in-bounded the ball, but two seconds later head referee Renato Righetto from Brazil noted a disturbance at the scorer’s table and called administrative time-out. The Soviet coach, Vladimir Kondrashkin, claimed that he had called for a time-out after

Collins’ first shot. Indeed, the time-out horn had gone off just as Collins released his second free throw attempt. According to the rules of the day, a coach calling for a time- out in a free throw situation could ask that the time-out begin before or after the first shot. Kondrashkin wanted his time-out after Collins’ first shot. The German officials, in the excitement of the moment, apparently forgot about this option and, noting the Soviet players go to the line for Collins’ first shot, thought that Kondrashkin had canceled his request, and so they failed to inform the referees of a time-out.

With one second on the clock, the U.S.S.R. was awarded a time-out. When play resumed, they in-bounded the ball and time ran out. The United States players began a joyous celebration.

But at this point Great Britain`s R. William Jones, the secretary-General of the International Amateur Basketball Federation (F.I.B.A.) intervened and ordered the clock set back to three seconds, which was how much time remained in the clock when Kondrashkin originally tried to call time-out Technically, Jones had no right to make any decisions, but he ruled F.I.B.A. with an iron hand, and hardly anyone dared to question his authority. Kondrashkin brought in Ivan Edeshko, who threw a long pass to Sasha Belov. Belov caught the pass perfectly, pushed past two defenders, and scored the winning basket. 51-50!

The United States filed a protest, which was heard by a five-man Jury of Appeal. Jones appointed Ferenc Hepp of Hungary to be chairman of the committee, and Hepp provided the deciding vote in favor of U.S.S.R. He was joined by representatives of Poland and Cuba, while representatives of Italy and Puerto Rico voted to disallow Belov’s basket. The U.S. team voted unanimously to refuse their silver medals. Coach Hank Iba felt doubly robbed. At 2 a.m., while he was signing the protest, his pocket was picked and he lost $370.

The loss haunted many of the United States players for years to come, but others were able to put it in perspective. In 1992, Kenny Davis told Sports Illustrated, “I went back to my room and cried alone that night. But every time I get to feeling sorry for myself, I think of the Israeli kids who were killed at those Games … Think of being in a helicopter with your hands tied behind your back and a hand grenade
rolling toward you…..and compare to not getting a gold medal. If that final game is the worst injustice that ever happens to the guys on that team, we’ll all come out of this life pretty good”

As for Sasha Belov, he died in mysterious circumstances on October 3, 1978. He was 26 years old.

Line Ups
U.S.S.R : Anatoly Polyvoda; Modestas Paulauskas; Zurab Sakandelidze; Alshan Sharmukhamedov; Aleksandr Boloshev; Ivan Edeshko; Sergei Belov; Mishako Korkia; Ivan Dvormi; Gennady Volnoy; Aleksander Belov; Serhei Kovalenko

U.S.A: Kenneth Davis; Douglas Collins; Thomas Henderson; Michael Bantom, Robert Jones; Dwight Jones; James Forbes; James Brewer; Tommy Burleson; Thomas McMillen; Kevin Joyce; Ratleff

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