25 August, 2023
10 September
Team photo, URSS/Soviet Union
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The Best of 1967 World Cup: Soviet Union claim first title for Europeans; Yugoslavia second, Brazil third in cold Uruguay

MIES (Switzerland) - Soviet Union started a new era of European domination of the FIBA Basketball World Cup in 1967 as they became the first non-American team to win the title.

The fifth edition of the World Cup came down to a thrilling final day of action in Uruguay with Yugoslavia finishing second for a second straight tournament followed by the two-time defending champions Brazil. . 

The best team: Soviet Union

Rank Team W-L
1. Soviet Union 8-1
2. Yugoslavia 6-3
3. Brazil 7-2
4. USA 7-2
5. Poland 4-5
6. Argentina 3-6
7. Uruguay 1-5
8. Mexico 6-2
9. Italy 4-4
10. Peru 4-4
11. Japan 2-6
12. Puerto Rico 2-6
13. Paraguay 0-8

The World Cup, known as the FIBA World Championship at the time, was held once again in South America, this time with the "Winners Final Round" games played in Montevideo Uruguay from May 27 to June 11 1967.

There, the teams had to combat frigid temperatures as low as 35 degrees Fahrenheit (about 2 degrees Celsius) with the teams provided blankets and electric heaters at the benches. 

For the third straight tournament, 13 teams participated: hosts Uruguay, Olympic champions USA; Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, Poland and Italy from the European Championship; Argentina, Brazil, Peru and Paraguay from the South American Championship; Mexico and Puerto Rico from the CentroBasket; and Asian Championship winner Japan.

Uruguay were granted a bye into the seven-team Final Round with the other 12 teams divided into three groups of four and the top two finishers also reaching the deciding group stage.

USA, Soviet Union and Brazil all won their respective groups with 3-0 records and were joined by second-placed finishers Yugoslavia, Argentina and Poland. 


Halfway through the Final Round, Yugoslavia defeated Brazil 87-84 and USA surprised Soviet Union 59-58. Yugoslavia would later get revenge from the opening group loss to USA by winning 73-72.

Entering the final day of competition, Soviet Union, USA and Yugoslavia all had 4-1 records. Brazil spoiled the Americans' hopes with an 80-71 victory and the final game saw Soviet Union ease past Yugoslavia 71-59 to take first place.

Yugoslavia, Brazil and USA were even in the final group at 4-2 but Yugoslavia were awarded second, Brazil third and fourth considering results among the teams. 

The best player: Ivo Daneu MVP

Ivo Daneu (bottom road, third from left) of Yugoslavia

For the first time, the Most Valuable Player of the World Cup did not come from the winning side with Yugoslavian Ivo Daneu taking the trophy.

The future FIBA Hall of Famer ranked 10th in the tournament in scoring at 14.0, which was actually second on his own team behind Radivoj Korac's 14.6 points.

But Daneu's three best games came in Yugoslavi's most important games in the Final Round: scoring 22 points against Brazil, pouring in 26 against USA and netting 23 points in the final game against Soviet Union.

Joining Daneu on the All-Tournament Team were teammate and fellow future FIBA Hall of Famers Korac as well as Modestas Paulauskas of Soviet Union and Mieczyslaw Lopatka of Poland, who would both end up in the FIBA Hall of Fame as well, and Brazilian Luis Claudio Menon. 

Modestas Paulauskas of Soviet Union

Trophy bearing name of Dr. James Naismith

The Soviet Union not only won their first title but they were also the first to hoist the new, solid gold trophy bearing the name of Dr. James Naismith, who is credited with inventing basketball in 1891.

The best game : Yugoslavia vs. USA Part II

United States took top honors in Group A thanks to beating Yugoslavia 76-71. Both teams advanced to the Final Round, meaning they would meet up again. In the second game, the Americans were ahead 39-33 at halftime and led by as many as 14 points in the second half.

But American leading scorer Darel Carrier as well as Kendall Rhine and Jim Williams all fouled out down the stretch. Trailing 73-71 with 2 seconds remaining, American Vern Benson made just one of two free throws and Yugoslavia ended up winning 73-72. Ivo Daneu led the way with 26 points with Nemanja Djuric scoring 13 points and both Radivoj Korac and Dragoslav Raznatovic both had 12 points. 

Team USA

The best story: Lopatka leads debutants Poland

The Soviet Union had won the FIBA EuroBasket 1963 title but it was Poland who took second as they defeated Yugoslavia in the Semi-Finals on home soil with the tournament played in Wroclaw.

It was the start of Poland's great stretch of international results, taking third place in 1965 and 1967 - the 1965 podium finish earning them their first ticket to the World Cup in 1967. In Montevideo, Poland grabbed four victories - over Puerto Rico, Paraguay, Argentina and Uruguay - to take fifth place.


The Europeans were led by the dynamic duo of Mieczyslaw Lopatka and Bohdan Likszo , who finished first and second in scoring with 19.7 and 19.3 points per game, respectively.

Lopatka was named to the All-Tournament Team and he ended up playing at four Olympics with Poland - 1960, 1964, 1968 and 1972. He was named to the FIBA Hall of Fame in 2020.

Team Poland

The best performance: Bohdan Likszo

Poland opened the tournament with a win over Puerto Rico and then lost to Brazil. The Europeans went into their final Preliminary Round game against Paraguay knowing they would reach the Final Round of their first appearance in the World Cup with a victory.

Bohdan Likszo made sure Poland would advance as he poured in 34 points in a 101-60 blowout of Paraguay. That was the top scoring output in the tournament. 

Stats leaders

Player (country) Points Per Game
Mieczyslaw Lopatka (Poland) 19.7
Bohdan Likszo (Poland) 19.3
Luiz Claudio Menon (Brazil) 18.6
Ernesto Gherman (Argentina) 18.3
Franco Lombardi (Italy) 17.5
Ubiratan Pereira Maciel (Brazil) 15.9
Manuel Raga (Mexico) 15.6
Radivoj Korac (Yugoslavia) 14.6
Arturo Guerrero (Mexico) 14.4
Ivo Daneu (Yugoslavia) 14.0