Women’s basketball legend Elena Baranova recalled the semifinal match of the 1992 Olympic games with the US team.
Baranova also spoke about the famous men’s dream team. According to her, NBA superstars congratulated Russian basketball players on their victory over the Americans.
“We didn’t really follow the US women’s team, because it was much more interesting to follow the men’s team. That was the first time NBA players were allowed to play at the Olympics, and we went to watch Dreamtime. We can say that we were lucky, because our accreditation allowed us to enter the arena freely, unlike representatives of other sports. Swimmers, gymnasts, and everyone else could also go to their own competitions, but they were not allowed to enter other stadiums. So we were lucky and the experience was really strong. To see Michael Jordan, Larry bird and everyone else in action, to watch them play – it’s really fantastic. So we didn’t pay much attention to the women’s team.
Gomelsky came up with a rather interesting tactic for the match against the United States – we changed our defense, and we did it constantly. Our main trump card was the zone defense, against which the American women traditionally play poorly. To break up such a defense, you need to have well-established team interactions. On the other hand, it is a difficult element for the defending side, especially for the national team. After all, the “zone” must be played for a long time. We started using zone defense, and the American women just started throwing 3-pointers all the time. Apparently, they had nothing better. And so they ran to “save America” and throw “three-balls”, and we had a strong front line, and we picked up the ball.
The audience started to leave when the USA lost to us? You know, I was all in the game – I didn’t have time to count. When you’re on the Playground, you don’t see or hear anything. Many believe, for example, that the coach directs the game from the sideline, but this is not the case. Even if he shouts and waves his hands, you can’t hear him during the match. You act on your instincts, and only on the bench is there time to think. There were a lot of spectators, but the US team was already well attended, including Americans from other sports. About half of the men’s dream team was in the stands that day – Jordan wasn’t there, but Pippen was. They sat in the VIP box and applauded us when there were beautiful moments during the game. I was even surprised-wow, such stars came to watch women’s basketball.
After the game, they went down to the sub-stands, because that was the way the arena was set up in Barcelona. They stood and congratulated us as we passed. They said ” Good job!”that we were good, and even gave our girls a fiver. And their basketball players, who followed them, were comforted, ” Baranova said.