On April 30, 1966 Yugoslavia won an unofficial World Championship in Santiago, Chile, named ”Extraordinary World Championship”.


History of FIBA World Championship (1950-2010) in its early years was quite troublesome from the organisational point of view.

After the first two editions held in 1950 (Argentina) and 1954 (Brazil) the 3rd Fiba WC was set to be played in 1958 in Chile. New infrastructures were still unfinished and Chilean Federation asked Fiba to postpone the event. The request was accepted and the WC was therefore held in early 1959. For the following event Fiba chose Philippines as the host country and the tournament was planned in December 1962. But Philippines was in political conflict with Eastern European block countries and Philipino Government refused to issue Yugoslavian delegation with visas. As a consequence, Fiba cancelled the WC tournament and sanctioned Philippines Federation with a fine and a ban from the next competition. The 4th WC was then reallocated to Brazil and shifted to 1963. For the following event Fiba again opted for an even year, 1966, and chose another South American country, Uruguay. Troubled social and political situation in Uruguay forced local Federation to request Fiba to postpone the WC tournament. Fiba accepted and the WC was organised in 1967, again on a different year from what had been planned. Just by the 1970 edition held in Yugoslavia, WC was finally (and definitively) set in even years.

In 1966 Chilean Federation proposed to organise anyhow a World invitational tournament, to promote its international development. Fiba didn’t stop the event but was cold on supporting it, since participating countries would be invited rather than regularly qualified. The tournament was anyway set up without Fiba official recognition and scheduled to be played from April 16th through April 30th in various Chile locations. The tournament’s name was “Campeonato Mundial Extraordinario 1966”.


Since this WC tournament has never been sanctioned as official, teams and results can’t be found in Fiba books.

Teams & Results

13 countries were invited to the 1966 tournament:
Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Spain, USA, USSR and Yugoslavia.

Preliminary round was played on three groups, with the top six teams advancing to the final round, together with host Chile.

A seven-team final round-robin was scheduled, and the top finishing team would be crowned world champion. Preliminary round results didn’t count for final round’s games.

Summary of results with final standing can be found in this link:

Details with photos and results of Yugoslavian world champion team are on this interesting Serbian site:

Yugoslavian team according to this source was:

Borut Basin, Ivo Daneu (capt.), Emil Logar, from Olimpija Ljubljana;
Radivoj Korać, Trajko Rajković, Zoran Maroević (OKK Beograd);
Dragan Kovačić (Lokomotiva Zagreb);
Vladimir Cvetković (Crvena zvezda);
Dragoslav Ražnatović, Dragutin Čermak (Radnički);
Petar Skansi, Rato Tvrdić (Split).

Head coach was Ranko Žeravica, who took over from Prof. Aleksandar Nikolic, the silver medal winner at the 1965 Eurobasket.

USSR team, coached by Alexander Gomelsky, fielded some new names compared to previous selections:

Leonid Ivanov, Olgerts Jurgensons, Alexander Kulkov, Yaak Lipso, Mikhail Medvedev, Modest Paulauskas, Zurab Sakandelidze, Vladimir Salukhin, Yuri Selikhov, Amiran Skhiereli, Nikolaj Sushak, Priit Tomson.

Paulauskas, Lipso, Sakandelidze and Tomson would be mainstays of Russian team in later years.

1963 World champ Brazil had again its glories Amaury Pasos, Wlamir Marques, Ubiratan Pereira Maciel, Carmo De Souza “Rosa Branca” and a new center Emil Assad Rached, at 2.20m (7’3”) the tallest player in the tournament.

Spain fielded for the first time naturalized American-born center Clifford Luyk (Florida 1962) and had, among others, sharpshooter Emiliano Rodriguez joined by Francisco Buscatò, Josep Lluis, Alfonso Martinez, Jose Manuel Monsalve and Carlos Sevillano.

Chile’s five included veteran shooter Juan Guillermo Thompson, Mario Donoso, Juan Lichnowski, Manuel Torres and Francisco “Kiko” Valenzuela.

Very detailed info are available on US-team, its selection process and games played, through Stars & Stripes archives and other sources.

USA team was chosen and sponsored by AAU (still in conflict with NCAA for control of national teams). At the end of March the annual AAU tournament was traditionally played in Denver and USA team was to be selected after that.

Besides AAU corporate players (former collegians who didn’t join pros and enjoyed amateur status), several NCAA stars usually came to Denver to show up their skills in view of NBA drafts and gain experience.

Already declining in quality level due to increasing pro defections, the 1966 Denver tournament was sparked by the presence of the nation’s top college star, Michigan’s SF/G Cazzie Russell, a senior and three-time All-American. Some other 1966 top collegians were added to Denver tournament as well, namely Clyde Lee, Jack Marin, John Block and Walt Wesley, who all went to play in NBA.

In Denver Russell played for AAU corporate team Ford Mustangs of Dearborn/Detroit, together with college teammates Oliver Darden, John Clawson (a future Olympian), Larry Tregoning and John Thompson. The team, coached by former AAU star Horace Walker, also fielded three Michigan State players, Lance Olsen, Bill Curtis and Stan Washington and ex-University of San Francisco All-American center Ollie Johnson, who had won gold at the 1965 Budapest WUG with USA team.

Another AAU team, Capitol Federal of Denver also got some notable local college stars in Lonnie Wright (Colorado State), Chuck Gardner (Colorado) and Leon Clark (Wyoming), who went drafted by NBA.

From remaining historical AAU teams best were Phillips 66ers of Bartlesville and Akron Goodyear Wingfoots.

Led by eventual tournament’s MVP and leading scorer Russell, Ford Mustangs won the Denver tournament defeating in the final Phillips 66ers, 71-67.

At the end of the tournament an 11-player USA team was selected, a mix of “true” AAU players and college seniors who had played in Denver.

Five came from winners Ford Mustangs: Cazzie Russell, John Clawson, Oliver Darden, Lance Olson and Ollie Johnson;
Four from runner-up Phillips 66ers: Harold Sergent (Morehead State 1965), Kendall Rhine (Rice 1964), Bobby Rascoe (Western Kentucky 1962) and Ray Bob Carey (Missouri 1964);
Jim King (Akron Goodyear/Oklahoma State 1965) and Chuck Gardner (Capitol Federal/Colorado 1966) rounded up the team.

Head coach was named former All-American Gary Thompson of 66ers, assisted by Detroit’s Horace Walker.

The presence of Russell was a boost to the team’s reputation and Stars & Stripes of April 1, 1966 titled: “Cazzie Heads U.S. Team Picked for World Meet”.

However, the selection process didn’t result so smooth. After few days Russell withdrew from the team “because of final examinations at his school”. He was followed by his Michigan’s teammates and the team had to be partially reshaped. For the record, Russell would become NBA’s #1 overall draft pick by mid May.

The final US-team roster for Chile was therefore made by:

Harold Sergent, Bobby Rascoe (team’s capt.), Warren Rustand (Phillips 66ers/Arizona 1965), Darel Carrier (Phillips 66ers/Western Kentucky 1964) - guards
Jay Miller (Akron Goodyear/Notre Dame 1965), Chuck Gardner, Leon Clark, Jim King and Ray Carey - forwards
Ollie Johnson and Kendall Rhine - centers

Clark and Gardner were the only 1966 NCAA players on the team.

Despite less than exciting wins in preliminary round, USA finished first and continued unbeaten in final round’s first three games.
Most impressive performance was a 90-71 win over Spain, with US-team paced by Carrier and Rascoe each with 22 points, while Luyk top scored for Spain with 25.

The run of the Americans to the World title was unexpectedly stopped by a tough Yugoslavian team, 69-59.

Yugoslavia took the lead early in the game, was ahead at the intermission, 34-28 and never relinquished. Dragoslav Ražnatović, a 1.94 m (6’4”) forward, was the hero of his team leading the way with 18 points, followed by Korać and Cvetković with 15 and 12 points.
Rhine and Rascoe led USA with 12 and 10 points.

It was reported that USA players “missed numerous shots and made many poor passes”.

US-team didn’t field fw Jim King (a future 1968 Olympic gold) who injured his back.

Game’s official score card:


From this vintage score card we also know that referee was Mario Hopenhaym of Uruguay, a Fiba Hall of Famer as Technical Official who passed away few days ago at age 90, and the venue was the National Stadium, Santiago.

Games were in fact played on the outdoor court of soccer stadiums, in front of huge crowds. There are accounts recalling how rain or evening dew made the ground wet and slippery, and games were sometimes temporarily stopped by referees. Teams coaches complained about playing in the chill or in unusual and dangerous conditions.

USA rebounded well from the shocking defeat against Yugoslavia clearly beating Brazil 77-61 (36-23), with a huge performance of Darel Carrier who netted 25 points, US’ highest in the tournament. Carrier also finished as USA most prolific scorer and would be selected to other USA national teams in 1967. He would later enjoy a fine ABA career as well, playing from the first season with Kentucky Colonels.

In its last effort USA also won over USSR in a close game, 75-73, behind the scoring of Harold Sergent (at 1.83 m the smallest of US contingent) and the free throws of Jay Miller in the final seconds. Russian team had started the game quickly, leading by as many as nine points, before Leon Clark came off the bench to fire the US come back to a slight lead at ht, 34-33.

Yugoslavia had opened the final round losing to USSR 53-49, then beat Bulgaria, Brazil and USA before crushing Chile, 91-73 behind 34 points of Korać.

Before last day’s schedule Yugoslavia was tied with USA and USSR (all 4-1) and played the deciding game against Spain. Ahead from the beginning, after two long play interruptions due to rain Yugoslavia led 36—25 at ht. After 10’ of 2nd half, Yugoslavia increased the lead to 52-31. Spain’s reaction came soon after and the lead was cut to 60-50 with 5’ remaining. Spain frantic comeback resulted in an exciting final and Yugoslavia finished with a slim lead to seal the victory, 68-65. Kovačić led Yugoslavia with 18 points and Luyk was high for Spain with the same score.

Both USA and Yugoslavia finished the final round with identical result, 5-1, but Yugoslavs won the title in virtue of their victory in the direct match.

After earning silver at the WC of Rio in 1963 and the 1965 EC, Yugoslavia won its first world-level tournament, even if not tagged as “official” by Fiba!

USA ended up on a high note but missed gold in the game badly lost to Yugoslavia. It’s just speculation, but maybe with Russell the final result would have been different.

USSR finished third after beating the eventual champs but having recorded upset losses against Brazil and USA.

Individual scoring honors went to Yugoslav star Korać with 125 points, followed by Juan Guillermo Thompson (Chile), Clifford Luyk (Esp), Bojčo Branzov (Bul), Emiliano Rodriguez (Esp), Darel Carrier (USA), Amaury Pasos (Bra), Ubiratan Maciel (Bra) and Francisco Buscatò (Esp) tied with Mario Donoso (Chile) and Wlamir Marques (Bra).

Final remark: I found out USSR complete roster thanks to a curious and incredible story as told by an Argentinian player many years after the tournament.

Russian team on its way back home stopped in Cordoba (Arg) on May 4th and accepted to play a friendly game with local club. One of Cordoba’s best players, Hugo Olariaga, recalled that after the game, won by USSR 65-45, he exchanged shirts with Soviet player Olgerts Jurgensons (from Latvia), both bearing #11. When the game was over and Olariaga approached the exit he was stopped by policemen and brought to the next police station, accused of pro Marxist behavior and the Soviet player’s shirt seized. Olariaga was held the entire night by the police and released the following morning, but the shirt was never returned.

Reported facts and game box score: