The Best of World Cup 1950: Argentina's first Night of the Torches, Denver Chevrolets and 20,000 fans
MIES (Switzerland) - The world gathered for the first FIBA Basketball World Cup in Buenos Aires, Argentina where 10 teams played from October 22 to November 4.
Luna Park in the Argentinian capital witnessed the coronation of Argentina as the first world champions of basketball. Future Hall of Famers Oscar Furlong and Ricardo Gonzalez guided Argentina to a perfect six wins in six games - the deciding game of the Final Round essentially being the Final against the United States of America, which was a team made up of the Amateur Athletic Union side Denver Chevrolets. Celebrations continued throughout the night in Buenos Aires with people setting newspapers on fire, which marked the start of the Argentinian tradition of "Night of the Torches".
The best team: Argentina
Just five years after the end of World War II, Argentina was chosen as host since the country had been neutral during the conflict. The field was originally just eight teams: USA, France and Brazil as the three best teams from the 1948 Olympics; Uruguay and Chile as the top two teams from 1949 South American Championship; Egypt as the FIBA EuroBasket 1949 champions; Korea from Asia and hosts Argentina. Korea and Uruguay ended up withdrawing and FIBA invited Ecuador, Peru, Spain and Yugoslavia.
The preliminary rounds were double-elimination to determine the six teams in the final round - the other four nations played in a classification round. Argentina and USA both won their first four games of the phase and ended up deciding the top two spots on the podium in their final game - which Argentina won 64-50. Brazil, Chile and Egypt were all 2-3 in the group with Brazil winning the tiebreaker for third place. France dropped all five of their games in the final group.
The best player: Oscar Furlong MVP
Oscar Furlong took home the MVP trophy for leading his team to the title. He was Argentina's top scorer at 11.2 points per game and fourth overall in the tournament.
Furlong was joined on the All-Tournament Team by his Argentina teammate Ricardo Gonzalez, John Stanich of USA, Rufino Bernedo of Chile and Alvaro Salvador from Spain.
John Stanich, USA
Olympic Semi-Finals in 1952
Argentina had competed in the 1948 Olympics but finished 15th among 23 teams. Two years after winning the 1950 World Cup, Argentina's squad for the 1952 Olympics in Finland featured 10 world champions. The South Americans won their Preliminary Round and finished second in the Semi-Final Round - losing to Uruguay in overtime.
Argentina lost to USA in the Semi-Finals and then faced Uruguay again in the Third Place Game. Uruguay ended up winning 68-59 despite finishing the game with just four players. Argentina did not play in the 1954 World Cup as they did not participate in the 1953 South American Championship, ending the Golden Generation of Furlong and Gonzalez.
Ricardo Gonzalez and Oscar Furlong
The best game: Argentina vs USA
The best game was the showdown to determine who would win the first World Cup crown and who would take second - USA versus Argentina at 10 PM local time on November 3. Legend has it that more than 20,000 people flocked to the Luna Park complex for the game, many having to stay outside unable to enter the packed arena. Argentina took the first half 34-24 and USA closed the deficit to 40-37 in the second half. Hugo Del Vecchio thrived on the fast break and ended up scoring 14 points while Oscar Furlong tallied 20 points - including 8-of-10 free throws. John Stanich had 11 points for USA. The Americans committed 38 fouls and had seven players foul out - the limit then was four fouls per player - meaning they played the final 1.5 minutes with just four players on the court. Argentina ended up winning and taking the title.
The first game in FIBA Basketball World Cup history came between Peru and Yugoslavia on October 22 and Nebojsa Popovic scored the first point in World Cup history.
The best performance: Alfredo da Motta
While Furlong scoring 20 points in the big game against USA helped decide the title, the best performance in the tournament belonged to Alfredo da Motta. The Brazilian poured in a tournament-best 32 points in Brazil's 59-27 victory over France in their final game to lock up third place for the Brazilians.
|Player (country)||Points Per Game|
|Alvaro Salvadores (Spain)||13.6|
|Fortunato Munoz (Ecuador)||13.2|
|Alredo Arroyave (Ecuador)||11.4|
|Oscar Furlong (Argentina)||11.2|
|Rufino Bernedo (Chile)||10.8|
|Ricardo Gonzalez (Argentina)||10.7|
|Eduardo Kucharski (Spain)||9.8|
|Kamel Montasser (Egypt)||8.8|
|Eduardo Fiestas (Peru)||8.7|
|Alberto Fernandez (Peru)||8.2|