Sabonis shone on FIBA Intercontinental Cup's great stage 33 years ago
RIO DE JANEIRO - It speaks to the rich history, the greatness of the FIBA Intercontinental Cup, that a legend like Arvydas Sabonis was once its star player.
A member of both the FIBA Hall of Fame (Class of 2010) and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (Class of 2011), Sabonis is rightly viewed as one of the game's best players ever.
One of his finest hours came in 1986 when he played for Zalgiris Kaunas and led the Lithuanian giants to glory in the 20th edition of the FIBA Intercontinental Cup, played in Argentina. The competition was held in the cities of Cordoba and Buenos Aires, and featured a total of eight teams.
Following an initial Group Stage, which saw Zalgiris finish second to Ferro Carril Oeste after losing to them 99-87 in Cordoba, both teams advanced to the last four and won their respective Semi-Finals.
Those results set up a rematch and this time, with Sabonis pouring in a game-high 26 points, Zalgiris prevailed, 84-78.
Sabonis, who is now the president of the Lithuanian Basketball Federation, is among international basketball's most decorated players.
As a member of the former Soviet Union, he reached the top of the podium at the FIBA Basketball World Cup 1982 in Colombia and six years later captured gold at the Seoul Olympics. Sandwiched in between was a FIBA EuroBasket 1985 crown won in what was then West Germany.
He also famously represented Lithuania after it declared independence and won bronze at both the 1992 and 1996 Olympic Games in Barcelona and Atlanta, respectively.