International basketball historians most often associate today’s date with the Soviet Union as the red army marched on to its 7th successive EuroBasket title in West Germany.
Modestas Paulauskas (Elijaus Kniežausko nuotr.)

Little does the average European fan realise that each one of those Soviet sides would feature a Baltic player including Lithuanian Modestas Paulauskas.

The 26-year-old would collect his fourth straight tournament Gold medal on this day in 1971.

Considered a “foot-ahead” player of his generation having already won an Olympic Bronze medal in 1968, Paulauskas would help guide his side to a 5-0 start in the group stage.

The largest of these victories was a 118:58 thumping of Spain to finish the week with a points difference of +158 points.

Paulauskas and the Soviet team would then travel from the city of Böblingen to Essen where they would face a higher quality of opposition.

Italy was in search of its first tournament medal in 25 years, the “Azzurri” posed as a genuine threat in a side featuring recent NBA draftee Dino Meneghin.

However Italy would have to settle for a Bronze after the USSR had triumphed 99:63, before taking the ultimate prize in a thrilling 69:64 tournament decider over Yugoslavia.

Krešimir Ćosić was Yugoslavia’s best; his tournament MVP award would attract interest from the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA.

More importantly, Ćosić was joined in the All-tournament team by Paulauskas alongside Sergei Belov (USSR), Edward Jurkiewicz (Poland) and Atanas Golomeev (Bulgaria).

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