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Georgia Loses Legend Korkia

14 March 2005

Otar Korkia, one of the pioneers of European basketball, has passed away at the age of 81.

Korkia was recognised as the best basketball player to ever come from Georgia. A 195cm he was a 3-time European champion with the Soviet Union.

The Soviets' first participation in the European Championship was in 1947, and Korkia was a member of the side which went 6-0 and won their first ever gold medal. He repeated that feat in 1951 and 1953, and captained the side at the 1955 European Championship, winning a bronze medal.

On the club front, Korkia began his career with his hometown side Dinamo Kutaisi. In 1947 he joined Dinamo Tbilisi, the top side in Georgia. They won Soviet titles in 1950, 1953 and 1954 and Soviet Cups in 1949 and 1950.

Following his retirement as a player, Korkia stayed with Tbilisi and became coach. They reached the final of the European Cup for Men's Champion Clubs in 1960, losing to ASK Riga. They made the final again in 1962, this time beating Real Madrid 90-83 to win the title.

Korkia was named Basketball Player of the Century and Sportman of the Century in Georgia.

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