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Former Soviet basketball great Belov dies

Posted Oct 3, 2013 2:47 PM - Updated Oct 3, 2013 3:21 PM

MOSCOW (AP) -- Sergei Belov, the Soviet basketball great who helped his team beat the United States in the epic 1972 Olympic final in Munich, died Thursday. He was 69.

His death was announced by CSKA Moscow, the team he played with for 13 seasons. The club said Belov died in the Ural Mountains city of Perm, where he coached a local team. No cause was given.

Belov scored 20 points in the 51-50 win over the U.S. in Munich, a gold-medal game in which the Russians scored the winning points as time ran out. The clock had been reset in the final seconds after the Americans thought they had won. The Americans refused to accept their silver medal

Belov, a shooting guard, was widely considered one of the best non-American players of his generation. He also won three Olympic bronze medals - 1968, 1976, 1980 - and led the Soviets to two world championship titles.

Belov lit the Olympic cauldron at the 1980 Games in Moscow and coached the Russian national team from 1993-99 before moving to Perm to coach the Ural-Great basketball team.

"World basketball has lost a true legend today," Jordi Bertomeu, president and CEO of Euroleague Basketball, said. "Mr. Belov was a great figure in European basketball's history and an example of excellence who helped paved the way for the growth of the sport we all love."

Belov won 11 titles with CSKA Moscow and later coached the club for three years, leading it to two titles. In 1992, he became the first international player inducted in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. He was inducted into basketball's international Hall of Fame in 2007.

"The basketball community has lost a great friend," said NBA commissioner David Stern in a statement. "During his Hall of Fame career, Sergei Belov left an indelible mark on the sport. His contributions were extraordinary, and we at the NBA are honored to have worked closely with Sergei in helping grow the game in his native Russia. On behalf of the NBA family, our condolences go out to Sergei's family."

Ivan Dvorny, a fellow Olympic gold medalist, described Belov as a "man of great will who was fully dedicated to basketball."

"I'm sure that the entire world mourns him," said another of Belov's 1972 Olympic teammates, Ivan Edeshko, according to Sovetsky Sport.

Belov's death on Oct. 3 came on the same date that Soviet Olympic teammate Alexander Belov died in 1978. Alexander Belov, no relation, scored the winning layup against the Americans in Munich after catching a court-length pass with time running out.

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