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Simpson Street Free Press

The Milwaukee Bucks' Historic Victory Over the U.S.S.R

The United States and the Soviet National team (U.S.S.R.) had one of the biggest basketball rivalries of the '70s and '80s, especially when the U.S. lost to the U.S.S.R. in the 1972 Olympic finals. Then 15 years later, the Milwaukee Bucks played the U.S.S.R., and the game was not even close.

In 1987, the Milwaukee Bucks beat the U.S.S.R. at the McDonald’s Basketball Open. The final score of the game was 127-100 with the Bucks leading by 50 points at some parts of the game. The win was the second of a three-day tournament.

The Bucks still dominated with three of their better players out, including Sydney Moncrief, who had just received knee surgery, John Lucas, and Rickey Pierce. The U.S.S.R. was also missing players like their dominant 7 '2 center Arvidas Sabonis, due to an Achilles injury, and his backup, Aleksandr Belosteni, who suffered a sprained left ankle.

Jerry Reynolds showed he was the most valuable player after dropping 24 points and seven assists. Meanwhile, the Soviet team had 24 turnovers. The Soviet team wasn't used to the Bucks' intense defense. Even the bench was dominating: John Stroeder had 14 points and seven rebounds in 16 minutes. “Today to win was not possible,” said Aleksandr Gomelsky, the Soviet coach. “This is a chance for me to study. I can go home and improve my team after this.”

The Milwaukee Bucks did not make the championship in 1987. However, this game proved to most people that American basketball represents the best of the best. Knowing we will never get this matchup again makes this game so historic.

[Sources: New York Times, Sports Illustrated]

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