The stars came out in the Russian capital on Saturday to pay tribute on what would have been his 90th birthday this week to the late Alexander Gomelsky, namesake of the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague's Coach of the Year award thanks to his having been the standard-bearer in that profession for CSKA Moscow.
Many of his former players, from Russia and abroad, gathered to play a charity game that gathered some of the greatest stars of yesteryear on court and on the benches. The guest list stretched back all the way to the 1970s, which is when Ivan Edeshko, who served as assistant coach, played several seasons for CSKA. Edeshko will be remembered as the author of the long pass that ended as the basket that won the Soviet Union the 1972 gold medal at the Olympic Games in Munich.
The list also reached forward to some of the most-recent retired CSKA stars of this century, headlined by Theo Papaloukas, Ramunas Sikauskas, Matjaz Smodis and Mirsad Turkcan. They all played for a "blue" team that was made up of non-Russians and did not require having played for CSKA to join. Other greats on the floor were former EuroLeague champions Fragiskos Alvertis, Gregor Fucka, Ibrahim Kutluay, Antoine Rigaudeau, Oded Kattash and Rasho Nesterovic, among others. They were coached by another Euroleague Basketball legend, Dusan Ikovic, who was assisted by icons Predrag Danilovic and Dejan Bodiroga.
On the "red" team made up largely of Russian players were some more-recent EuroLeague champions, Sergey Panov and Zakhar Pashutin, who captained CSKA's 2006 and 2008 continental title teams, respectively, as well as Alexey Savrasenko, who played on both. They were joined by such illustrious names in CSKA history as Sergey Bazarevich, Igor Kudelin, Evgeni Kisurin and others. Former CSKA player and coach Stanislav Eremin coached, assisted by Edeshko and Dragan Tarlac.
The players did their best to put on a show for the fans in what turned out to be an exciting game. The red team won 56-50 behind 16 points apiece from Kudelin and Panov. Papaloukas led the blue team with 11 points.
Known as the father of Russian Basketball, Gomelsky's Hall of fame coaching career spanned parts of five decades, though he is best known and most revered for his time with CSKA and two stints, totaling 20 years, as head coach of the Soviet national team. Gomelsky’s legend began at ASK Riga, which he led to the first three EuroLeague (then referred to as European Champions Cups) in 1958, '59 and '60. He also won five Soviet titles with Riga. Gomelsky left Riga for CSKA, which he led to nine Soviet crowns, the 1971 EuroLeague championship and another two appearances in the EuroLeague Championship Game. He led the Soviets to four Olympic medals, including the gold medal at the 1988 games in Seoul; five FIBA World Championships medal, including gold medals at the 1967 games in Montevideo 1967 and 1982 games in Colombia; and six EuroBasket gold medals.
Gomelsky, who spend a season each with Tenerife in Spain and Limoges CSP in France at the end of his coaching career, also served as the President of the Russian Basketball Federation, head of the Russian delegation at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, and was CSKA Moscow president from 1997 until his death in 2005. He was enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield in 1995 and was a member of the inaugural FIBA Hall of Fame class in 2007.