The Georgian basketball family is in mourning at the news of the death of former star player Zurab Sakandelidze. Sakandelidze lost a long battle with illness at the age of 58.
Sakandelidze, a 188 cm shooting guard, was a member of the Soviet Union basketball team that dominated Europe and the World in the late 1960‘s and early 1970‘s.
Born in 1945, Sakandelidze's international career lasted 7 years during which he won 6 gold medals in international competition and 1 silver.
Sakandelidze made his debut at the 1965 European Championship which was held in Moscow and Tbilisi. He won gold there with the Soviet Union, the first of 4 consecutive European titles for Sakandelidze.
His success was not limited just to Europe and in 1967, the Soviet Union became the first European team to win a World Championship.
That was followed by World Championship silver in 1970, Sakandelidze’s penultimate international tournament. His last performance for the national team was also the most prestigous as he was a member of the Soviet Union’s 1972 Olympic team.
It was at the 1972 Olympics that the Soviets defeated the USA, the only time that the Americans have failed to win Oympic gold. It was the perfect end to a glittering international career for Sakandelidze.
As well as representing the Soviet Union, Sakandelidze had a 12-year career with Dinamo Tbilisi. He retired from basketball in 1976.