MILWAUKEE, OCT. 25 -- The Soviet national basketball team played its first game against an NBA team today and fell behind by 48 points. Even after the Milwaukee Bucks put in their reserves, the Soviets were routed, 127-100, before a sellout crowd of 11,052, plus TV viewers in 30 countries.
"Today our boys see what professional basketball is really like," Soviet Coach Aleksandr Gomelsky said. "This is the best basketball in the world. They have very good players and coach. Maybe I study five or six years, my boys could win here."
"They may catch up," Bucks Coach Del Harris said, "but not in my lifetime."
The Soviets shot 35 of 104 for the game (34 percent).
"We had good shooting position but we were very nervous," said Sharunas Marchulenis, who had 19 points for the Soviets. "As usual our team tried its best. We kept with the Bucks in the first and fourth quarters. We hoped not to disillusion the fans."
"The pressure was so great," Jack Sikma of the Bucks said. "It was a no-win situation if we didn't beat the Soviet Union." He had 14 points for the Bucks, who were led by Jerry Reynolds' 24 and Terry Cummings 23.
The game was the final of a three-team round-robin tournament. The Bucks pulled away in the last eight minutes of the first half and at the break led by 67-36.
The Bucks pressured the Soviets into 17 first-half turnovers. Guards Paul Pressey and Reynolds harassed the Soviets most.
Forward Valeri Goborov scored 20 points and forward Aleksandr Volkov 17 for the Soviets, who played without starting center Aleksandr Belosteni, who has a sore leg. Reserve center Victor Pankrashkin fouled out in the third quarter. Forced into a perimeter game, the Soviets made only one of their 21 shots from three-point range through the first three quarters.
Milwaukee was without four of its top guards. Sidney Moncrief, Ricky Pierce, Craig Hodges and John Lucas.
The game caught the fancy of thousands of area residents.
"I wanted to show the spirit of America," said Fred Oehler, a University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee business student who waved an American flag during the game. "You have to stand up for these guys. I think it's probably a good way to build goodwill, but I want the Bucks to win."
The crowd inside Milwaukee Arena stood respectfully for the Soviet national anthem, then sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" and cheered wildly. The top item at concession stands was a red tank-top emblazoned with the letters CCCP.
Outside, police cordoned off several blocks for a "Global Block Party" that featured a 20-by-30-foot TV screen showing the game for about 1,000 people.