Classic Games: Rebraca saves the day as Yugoslavia edge Russia in World Cup 1998 Final
MIES (Switzerland) - One of the all-time great FIBA Basketball World Cup Finals was played in Athens, Greece, in 1998, a title-tilt between Yugoslavia and Russia that was decided in the last minute.
Fans will remember that Dejan Bodiroga, a true Yugoslavia legend, was excellent in the tournament. He poured in 31 points against Greece on Semi-Finals day and claimed the honor as World Cup MVP. Yet it was the irrepressible play of Yugoslavian center Zeljko Rebraca in the Final against Russia that got the country to the top of the podium.
The Russians, coached by their legendary Sergei Belov, looked like a team of destiny. In their 66-64 come-from-behind Semi-Final triumph over the United States, forward Sergey Panov received an inbounds pass and dribbled the ball the length of the floor in the last 10 seconds to score the contest's last points.
In the Final, Russia held slender leads against Yugoslavia late in the second half, too. In a true defensive struggle, a block by Rebraca with 34 seconds remaining and then his offensive rebound off a missed free-throw helped seal the championship.
The 2.11m (6ft 11in) center, who had 20 points and 13 rebounds in the Semi-Finals win against Greece, rose high and rejected Mikhail Mikhaylov at the rim and then his offensive rebound allowed teammate Milenko Topic to score and stretch Yugoslavia's lead to 60-56.
Rebraca finished 16 points and 11 rebounds and Yugoslavia prevailed, 64-62, to win the World Cup for the fourth time.