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82 | Košarka » Basketball SPORT SPORTS barely managed to acquire suits, and then they went to see the country’s top man, to whom Stane Dolanc, a Slovenian political official with great ambitions that he later realised, handed over a gold medal. And where did Dolanc get a gold medal? Well, he took it from Rabotnički coach Lazar Lečić, who had been Žeravica’s assistant and the original recipient of the 14th medal. “ e championship ended right on 24th May, and on 25th May we were received by Tito, on his birthday. I remember giving my medal to Tito, who gave us those Schaffhausen watches. Who would give him the medal that Dolanc had promised him? Either Ćosić or me? He was a player, Ranko normally pulls first, and I gave it to him, and it was handed over to him by Stane Dolanc, personally. And thus my medal ended up with Tito,” recounted Lečić. In the end, everyone recalls with smiles Tito’s legendary sentence when receiving the national team’s basketball players in Belgrade: “You know what, comrades, we mustn’t throw the Americans and the Russians into the same basket,” said the marshal, prompting an avalanche of laughter. That’s how Yugoslavia achieved the first of five world golds (the U.S. is the only other country to have five world titles), entered the golden decade in which four more were won and laid the foundations of basketball, which became a new national brand. Precisely 50 years later, nothing has changed; those heroes have not been forgotten, and basketball is played everywhere in Serbia. There are courts next to hospitals, beside other sports pitches, with improvised courts and baskets made of wood, plastic etc. All this ensured that Serbian kids became planetary stars for decades, and that the Yugoslav school of basketball extended far beyond the borders of the country and the region. Sa selektoromRankomŽeravicomna čelu svetski šampioni postali su Krešimir Ćosić, Dragutin Čermak, Nikola Plećaš, Vinko Jelovac, Damir Šolman, Aljoša Žorga, Ivo Daneu, Ljubodrag Simonović, Ratomir Tvrdić, Dragan Kapičić, Petar Skansi i Trajko Rajković svetskih zlata osvojila je Jugoslavija koliko jedino još ima SAD / world golds won by Yugoslavia, with the U.S. being the only other country to have won as many titles 5

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