One of the best centers in the history of European basketball, one of the watchwords of the extremely powerful Soviet Union team, the Lithuanian Arvydas Sabonis, took advantage of the opening of USSR borders to launch into the international arena. He signed for the Fórum Valladolid and his presence in our League was a true revolution
He was then 25 years old and had spent several years marked by a serious knee injury. But in any case, his landing in the League, with the Fórum Valladolid shirt, was quite a revolution and one more accolade for our club competition, which in those years was still experiencing a golden age, which was described as a ‘boom’.
Sabonis showed in Pucela that he was still one of the most determined and intelligent players in European basketball. At a time when there were only two foreign players per team in the ACB League, in his first season Sabonis teamed up with his compatriot Valdemaras Homicius at the Forum, and in his second, with his fellow Soviet teammate Valeri Tikhonenko. In both campaigns, the team’s coach was Javier Casero.
In its first season, the Forum reached the quarterfinals of the League and was sixth in the final standings; and also in the second, finishing in seventh position. Two excellent results.
After two years in Pucela and a full physical recovery, he made the leap to Real Madrid, where he played for three seasons and with which he won two league titles and was European champion (1995). After that he made the leap to the NBA, in which he played for six seasons -and later, one more- with the Portland Trail Blazers.
Shock for Fernando Martín
That League, in any case, was marked by the tragic death of Fernando Martín in December in a traffic accident when he was going to the Palacio de los Deportes in Madrid. He was 27 years old and had returned to Real Madrid after making history in the NBA. His death shocked basketball and sports in general, not only in our country but throughout the world.
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