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Thread: Oscar "Pillín" Furlong

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    Default Oscar "Pillín" Furlong

    Marginalized by the military dictatorships of the '50s, '60s, and '70s, Oscar Furlong is historically one of Argentina's best basketball players. He stood a few inches above six feet, but was one of the most dominant players of his era, especially in Argentina.

    Furlong was born in 1927 and became a basketball star in the '40s, many years before basketball became a viable professional sport. Furlong grew up playing tennis and basketball at the Gymnastics and Tennis Club of Villa del Parque (outside of Buenos Aires). He played in their youth tournaments and earned the nickname "Pillín," or "Little Devil."

    By the time he was 17, Furlong was on the Gymnastics and Tennis Club's senior men's basketball team. Like all sports clubs at the time, it was an amateur club; however, it was the most dominant club of the time in Argentina.

    In 1948, a teammate of Furlong's was named head coach of Argentina's national basketball team. The team went to London that year, losing most of their games, but keeping the US honest in a 59-57 loss. The US coach, Omar Browning, famous for his later success as an AAU coach, said "Furlong of Argentina is one of the best players in the world."

    The Minneapolis Lakers and Baltimore Bullets, two of the first professional basketball teams in the world, tried to recruit Furlong, as did Adolph Rupp of the University of Kentucky, the best US coach of that era. Furlong was devoted to the idea of amateur, club-level sports, and never seriously looked at the Lakers or Bullets, perhaps considering the fact that the salaries made by players would barely keep him above the poverty line.

    Argentina offered to host the first ever World Basketball Championships in 1950. In the championship game against the US, Furlong scored 20 points and won the Gold Medal. Juan Perón, a military officer turned president/dictator, gave each member of the team a Ford Mercury as a present. This gift later forced Furlong into a life of obscurity.

    In 1951, Argentina won the Silver at the Pan-American Games, and in 1952, they won fourth place in the Helsinki Olympics.

    After winning the Gold in the World University Games in 1953, Furlong accepted a scholarship to Southern Methodist University in Texas. He played with future NBA player and All American Jim Krebs, arriving at the Final Fours one year.

    During his final year at SMU, he also won the Silver Medal again at the Pan-American Games. Furlong returned after only three years to star once again for the Gymnastics and Tennis Club, winning the Buenos Aires Basketball Championship in 1954 (his sixth time: 1945, 1946, 1947, 1948, and 1951).

    When Perón was deposed and the military dictatorship took over, the new government sought to de-emphasize all successes of the Peron regime. Thus, in 1957, the dictatorship ruled that all the winners of the 1959 World Basketball Championship were not amateurs, since they received a Ford Mercury from Perón, and were declared ineligible to play basketball as amateurs. Because their best players were not allowed to practice the sport, Argentina fell into a decades-long defeat in basketball terms.

    Furlong played his last game with the Gymnastics and Tennis Club that year. He retired from basketball permanently at the age of 30. Soon, he ranked in the top ten of Argentine tennis players. Later in life, he lead the Argentine tennis federation's program, putting many players in top tournaments around the world. He was enshrined in the inaugaural class of the FIBA Hall of Fame, along with Bill Russell, Nikos Galis, Uljana Semjanova, and others.

    Before Manu split double teams, Wolkowyski bowled over defenders, and Milanesio jacked up countless shots, the "Little Devil" stood as the greatest of Argentine players. Despite his name being unspoken for decades during Argentina's military dictatorship, his name is synonymous with Argentina's early success as a basketball power.
    Last edited by mvblair; 04-26-2011 at 06:37 PM.
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    He was sort of an Argentine Dike Eddleman.

    How much basketball did he play at SMU? He's not listed in the box scores for the 1955 or 1956 NCAA tournaments.
    Quote Originally Posted by Fedfan
    Most ppl get childish when they lose.
    Quote Originally Posted by GuTO
    refs in games of Spain walks with literally poop in his pants afraid of the Spanish players

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    Quote Originally Posted by JGX View Post
    He was sort of an Argentine Dike Eddleman.
    I had to search for this guy on Wikipedia.
    How much basketball did he play at SMU? He's not listed in the box scores for the 1955 or 1956 NCAA tournaments.
    I wondered the same thing. I couldn't find any mention of him on SMU's athletics page, including their media guides. The only conclussion I can draw is that he probably didn't play very much. Why he didn't play much I have no idea. Obviously he didn't have problems as a basketball player, since he was offered jobs in the fledgling NBA and played on a Pan-Am Gold Medal team. He didn't have injuries because he played at the World University Games (at least in '54). He didn't have a language problem since he graduated in only 3 years with a business degree. I can't imagine that a player of his caliber would have problems with a coach. Your guess is as good as mine. Any theories? Anybody?
    "I really like the attitudes of eagles. They never give up. When they grab a fish or something else, they never let it go. It doesn't matter. In a book, they write they find a skeleton of [an] eagle and there is no fish. It means that the fish beat him and killed him, but he didn't let go." -- Donatas Motiejunas

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    Searching a bit more, I found records of him playing for SMU's freshman team in 1953-54 (at the age of 26...), and varsity in 1954-55. He played in the Pan Am games in March 1955 which is presumably why he didn't play in the NCAA tournament.

    Much easier to find his tennis results though.
    Quote Originally Posted by Fedfan
    Most ppl get childish when they lose.
    Quote Originally Posted by GuTO
    refs in games of Spain walks with literally poop in his pants afraid of the Spanish players

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    Very interesting indeed.

    Concerning his NCAA records, I did find him mentioned in a SMU "honors media-guide" of 2008. It seems that he only played few games as a sophomore in the 1954-55 season (at that time freshmen were not in the records), see page 8:
    http://grfx.cstv.com/schools/smu/gra...200_Honors.pdf

    But he still was in the SMU roster as a junior in the following season:
    http://www.ponyfans.com/phpBB3/viewt...hp?f=3&t=17597

    Maybe he dedicated more time to tennis play ?

    Internationally, it's worth to remember that earning the silver medal in the 1955 Pan Am games, Argentina defeated by one point the USA team (represented by AAU and US Armed Forces players) that eventually won the gold, see also:
    http://www.usabasketball.com/mens/pa...mpag_1955.html
    and
    http://espndeportes.espn.go.com/news...an&type=column

    Unfortunately there's no mention on Furlong's performance.

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    Quote Originally Posted by carlo View Post
    Very interesting indeed.
    Concerning his NCAA records, I did find him mentioned in a SMU "honors media-guide" of 2008. It seems that he only played few games as a sophomore in the 1954-55 season (at that time freshmen were not in the records), see page 8:
    http://grfx.cstv.com/schools/smu/gra...200_Honors.pdf
    Good find. I found an article from January 1955 noting that he'd been nursing an injury but was expected to be back at top form.

    Unfortunately there's no mention on Furlong's performance.
    He was leading scorer of the 1955 Pan Am Games with 93 points.

    According to another poster on the SMU board (named "50's PONY" so he should know )

    Oscar Furlong came to SMU from Buenos Aires because one of his best friends was also here to play tennis. Matt Murphy, who was a wonderful tennis player here in the middle 50's, was the son of the Irish Ambassador to Argentina and an internationally known tennis player. While the article about Oscar is very interesting to read he was never a factor here in basketball and gave it up to play tennis. He and Murphy were a tremendous doubles team at SMU.
    http://www.ponyfans.com/phpBB3/viewt...334006#p334006
    Last edited by JGX; 04-28-2011 at 01:27 AM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Fedfan
    Most ppl get childish when they lose.
    Quote Originally Posted by GuTO
    refs in games of Spain walks with literally poop in his pants afraid of the Spanish players

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    In this link from the magazine "El Grŕfico" a photo depicting from left, John Stanich (USA), Oscar Furlong (Arg) and Alvaro Salvadores (Chile) at the 1950 1st. World Championship.

    http://www.fanbase.com/Oscar-Furlong/photo/333905?n=1

    John Stanich, Denver Chevrolets and formerly UCLA, was one of the best USA team players at the World's Championship. He had a younger brother, George, who also was an excellent hoopster, but earned a bronze medal at the 1948 Olympics in the high jump.

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    Carlo, thanks for finding that "honors media guide." Thank you guys very much for filling in the gaps of Furlong's SMU career. It sounds like there was a combination of an injury and a preference for tennis that kept him as a non-factor for the team. Considering how good he was at basketball, I'm surprised that he wouldn't prefer it over tennis.

    JGX, that quote about Matt Murphy (Irish Ambassador to Argentina's son) is interesting. Furlong has Irish ancestry. It must have been ea close-knit community.
    "I really like the attitudes of eagles. They never give up. When they grab a fish or something else, they never let it go. It doesn't matter. In a book, they write they find a skeleton of [an] eagle and there is no fish. It means that the fish beat him and killed him, but he didn't let go." -- Donatas Motiejunas

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    An account of the famous near-upset game with USA at the 1948 Olympics can be found in this link (actually related to the University of Kentucky b'ball history).

    http://www.bigbluehistory.net/bb/sta...Argentina.html

    In this account it is possible to read about Oscar Furlong and his amazing abilities in the words of the USA Head coach Omar (Bud) Browning. Nothing new but a confirmation of the level of this Argentinian player.

    P.S. the coach name in the Argentina roster is clearly a mistake, F. Crespo was a player and Jorge H. Canavesi was actually the Head coach.

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