Written by Chuck Miller

CBA All-Stars v. Soviet Union National Team
Washington Avenue Armory, Albany, N.Y.
October 28, 1986
Glasnost in the Washington Avenue Armory

For the first time in history, the Soviet National Basketball Team played a game against a squad of American professionals.

It all started when Jim Coyne, the Albany County Executive who doubled as president of the Patroons, proposed to the CBA's Board of Directors that an all-star team compete against the Soviet National Team. The Soviet Team was on a 14-game U.S. Tour, facing some colleges and the amateur outfit Athletes in Action. Coyne convinced the CBA that the Armory would be the perfect place for the game, and the League agreed.

Albany's Phil Jackson would coach the All-Stars; Bill Musselman and Herb Brown would be his assistants. Jackson's All-Star team included three Patroons - Lowes Moore, returning to basketball after a year of retirement; Kenny Natt, the former Northeast Louisiana veteran guard; and Derrick Rowland, who had recently been cut from the Houston Rockets camp. Musselman and Brown brought in Cozell McQueen (from North Carolina State's 1982 NCAA champions) and Ron Valentine (the 1982 CBA MVP). The roster was filled out with whatever CBA talent hadn't been drafted by the NBA or lured away to foreign lands. With only a week before the game, they went through two-a-day drills, trying to build a cohesive unit out of 13 different athletes.

Their opponents were the National Team of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, a squad so powerful that their 7'2" center, a Lithuanian named Arvidas Sabonis, had been drafted by the Portland Trail Blazers.

The game would be played by NCAA rules - two 20-minute halves, a 45-second shot clock and a zone defense. Coyne made sure there were enough security personnel in the Armory that night; although the Soviet Union was embroiled in a war in Afghanistan, the last thing Coyne needed this night was an unruly protest or bomb threat against his guests.

More than 3,000 basketball fans and curiosity seekers packed the Armory, and Jim Coyne was pleased - he had created an international contest against Russians and American pros in only two weeks, and gave them a full house to perform in. Only eight of the 12 Soviets dressed for the game; the other four, including Arvidas Sabonis, were injured and could not play.

As the game began, the All-Stars discovered they weren't playing five hulking Frankensteins who take ten minutes just to take a shot. Lowes Moore surrendered two inches to Estonia's Tiit Sokk, who outran and outshot Moore at every opportunity. Sokk also faked out Moore with quick head-bobs and weaves. Moore dove one way under the basket, while Sokk stood there, made the shot, and smiled.

And the Soviets bounced from position to position with ease. Alexander Volkov began the game at forward, and drove around All-Star forward Paul Brozovich as if he were a statue. In the second half, Volkov switched to guard and scored past Derrick Rowland. In the last 10 minutes, Volkov stayed out on the court - even though he had four fouls.

And the CBA's Kenny Natt had a formidable opponent in Lithuania's Sarunas Marciuliounis, and both big guards went wild from the three-point circle (Marciulionis hit 3 three-pointers, Natt drained 4).

With ten minutes left in the game, the Soviets led 53-41. Jackson's three Patroons - Rowland, Moore and Natt - were on the court. They instantly rattled off ten quick points, including Derrick Rowland's three-point shot that brought the CBA within two points of the lead. Undaunted, the Soviets scored ten points of their own.

With minutes left, the CBA were behind by only two points, when 6'9" forward Valery Tikhonenko headed in for a layup. He took the shot and drew a foul. Tikhonenko converted the three-point play, and Marciulionis drilled another three-pointer, putting the game away for good. 77-72, Soviets.

Two members of the Soviet National Team actually made it to the NBA - Sarunas Marciulionis joined the Golden State Warriors, while Alexander Volkov signed with the Atlanta Hawks.

After the game, the Soviets and the All-Stars exchanged gifts and autographs, and the crowd gave each team a standing ovation. Though the Soviets were victorious that day, the CBA All-Stars and their fans were gracious in defeat.

Volkov 4-7 3-5 11; Sokk 3-7 0-1 7; Tarakanov 2-10 0-0 5; Babenko 2-4 0-0 4; Tikhonenko 6-9 5-5 18; Marciulionis 7-11 1-4 18; Tkachenko 3-8 0-0 6; Goborov 2-7 4-4 8. Totals 29-63 13-19 77.

Moore 4-13 1-2 10; Fleming 0-1 0-0 0; Goodwin 5-8 1-5 12; Natt 6-8 0-0 16; Stevens 0-1 0-0 0; Brozovich 0-1 0-1 0; Valentine 4-10 1-4 9; Rowland 4-13 4-6 13; Stancell 0-3 0-1 0; McQueen 3-6 1-2 7; Ruland 2-4 1-3 5; Costner 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 28-70 9-24 72.

SOVIETS 37-40 77
CBA     35-37 72
Three-point goals: Natt 4, Marciulionis 3, Tikhonenko, Tarakanov, Sokk, Moore, Goodwin, Rowland. Rebounds: Soviet Union 41 (Goborov 10); CBA 41 (McQueen 11). Assists: Soviet Union 12 (Volkov, Tikhoneko 3); CBA 12 (Moore 5). Total fouls: Soviet Union 23, CBA 18. Technical fouls - none. A-3,361.
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