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MOSCOW (Olympics) - Sergei Belov played in plenty of big games for the Soviet Union.

He was for many the face of their basketball team for a long time.

Born in 1944, he made his professional debut at the age of 20 with Uralmash Sverdlovski and a few years later moved to CSKA Moscow.

Eleven times he won Russian league titles and twice, Belov celebrated EuroLeague wins, in 1969 and 1971.

To the wider basketball community, though, Belov is best known for his memorable runs with the Soviet Union national team.

He competed in four Olympic Finals, four World Championship Finals and seven European Championship Finals.

“To play for the national team was a huge honor and a great chance to see the world and meet people from all over the world,” Belov once said.

“It was a great honor to represent the country as a member of the team — and a great challenge.”

Belov won the World Championship in 1967 in Uruguay but didn't return to the top of the podium at a major international event until the Olympics five years later.

He poured in 20 points as the Soviets beat the United States in the gold-medal game in Munich, 51-50.

Two years later, Belov celebrated another world title in Puerto Rico.

“There is nothing greater than to win an Olympic Championship, but for me, my whole career was great,” Belov said.

Are there any plays, or games that stand out as the most significant in his career?

“I cannot find a few moments that I liked the most," he said, "but I enjoyed all of my career — training, national competitions, international competitions.

"But as I said before, winning is always the most important thing in the career and to win the Olympic Championships is very crucial and important in every sportsman’s career.”

The first European to be inducted to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1992, Belov served as the president of the Russian Basketball Federation from 1993-98.

He went into the FIBA Hall of Fame in 2007.


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