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1959 USA Men's World Championship Team


  • Date:
    Jun 10, 2010

Santiago, Chile • January 16-31, 1959

The 1959 men's World Championship was originally scheduled to be held in the fall of 1958, but delays in constructing the arena in Santiago, Chile, forced the championship to be delayed to January and to be played outdoors.

1959 USA RESULTS (7-2)
USA 87 Argentina 73
USA 81 Formosa 73
USA 103 United Arab Rep. 58
USA 63 Bulgaria 58
USA 54 Puerto Rico 53
USA 85 Formosa 69
USSR 62 USA 37
USA 64 Chile 55
Brazil 81 USA 67
1. Brazil (5-1) 8. Philippines (4-2)
2. USA (4-2) 9. Uruguay (2-4)
3. Chile (2-4) 10. Argentina (3-3)
4. Formosa (2-4) 11. Egypt (1-5)
5. Puerto Rico (1-5) 12. Canada (3-3)
6. Soviet Union (5-1)* 13. Mexico (0-6)
7. Bulgaria (2-4)*
*FIBA declared the USSR and Bulgaria ineligible in the final round because of their refusal to play Formosa.

Unfortunately for the United States, this was right in the middle of the regular basketball season in the U.S. Unable to use U.S. collegians or AAU team members, initially, the U.S. declined to participate, but after being told this would ruin the competition, agreed to send an Air Force squad. The 1959 USA World Championship team was selected after an advertisement for volunteers appeared in an Air Force newspaper. While 24 players assembled in December for tryouts at Andrews Air Force Base, the 1959 USA squad had no players taller than 6'5'. Making matters worse for the U.S. were injuries one day before leaving for Chile to two of the USA top players, Robert Jeangerard and Eddie White.

Surprisingly, the U.S. emerged unbeaten from the preliminary round after defeating Argentina, 87-73, Formosa, 81-73, and the United Arab Republic, 103-58. Advancing to the quarterfinals, Dick Welsh scored 20 points and Jerry Vayda added 19 as the U.S. disposed of Bulgaria 63-58, despite trailing 27-26 at halftime.

Trailing Puerto Rico 32-25 at half, the U.S. again rallied and on Bob Hodges' driving layup with 45 seconds left managed to hold on and record a 54-53 victory. Vayda paced the U.S. scoring with 17 points. Facing Formosa for the second time, the U.S. led by just one point at half but went on to roll over Formosa 85-69, as Hodges and Welsh each tallied 22 points.

The Soviet Union posted its first win over the U.S. in international basketball competition, drilling the Americans 62-37. Playing in front of 30,000 fans in Santiago's open-air stadium, both teams struggled to score early, however, the USSR took advantage of U.S. fouls and moved out to a 20-5 lead. Leading 25-14 at half, the Soviets dominated the second half en route to the 62-37 victory.

Facing host Chile, the U.S. squad again trailed at half, 34-32, but behind the play of 1956 Olympian Jeangerard, who had been sidelined for most of the tournament with a broken hand, the USA rallied for a 64-55 victory. Hodges and Welsh each scored 19 points for the U.S. in the win.

Despite standing 5-0, the Soviet Union team never advanced to the finals. Refusing to recognize or play Formosa, FIBA ruled that the USSR and Bulgaria would forfeit their games to Formosa and be ineligible to compete in the remainder of the competition.

Brazil claimed the world title by whipping the United States 81-67. A U.S. victory would have earned the Americans their second straight world title, however, Brazil proved too fast and too much. The United States led 10-2, but by half Brazil had taken control and led 40-37. Leading by a single point late in the game, Brazil went on a 12-2 scoring run to take control 60-49, and then cruised to the 81-67 victory despite Welsh's 22-point performance.

Brazil later beat Chile 73-49 to claim the gold medal, the U.S. earned the silver, and host Chile delighted its countrymen by earning the bronze.


Dick Baker F 6-4 195 25 U. S. Air Force (Loyola, CA) Los Angeles, CA
Jim Coshow C 6-6 215 24 U. S. Air Force (Washington) Seattle, WA
Hank D'Antonio         U. S. Air Force (California)  
Bob Hodges C 6-5 225 25 U. S. Air Force (East Carolina) Scotland Neck, NC
Robert Jeangerard G 6-3 190 26 U. S. Air Force (Colorado) Wilmette, IL
Henry McDonald         U. S. Air Force (Tennessee State)  
John F. Miller         U. S. Air Force  
Ronald Olsen F 6-4 195 24 U. S. Air Force (Washington) Bremerton, WA
Virgil Riley F 6-4   25 U. S. Air Force (South Dakota St.) Dell Rapids, SD
Jerry Vayda F 6-4 201 25 U. S. Air Force (North Carolina) Bayonne, NJ
Dick Welsh G 6-2 180 25 U. S. Air Force (USC) Ontario, CAN
Eddie White G 6-2 185 25 U. S. Air Force (UCLA) Lexington, NE
HEAD COACH: Charles (Buzz) Bennett, U. S. Air Force
MANAGER: Col. Ralph L. Stevenson, U. S. Air Force
CAPTAIN: Robert Jeangerard


Jerry Vayda 9 41- 23-
162/ 18.0
Dick Welsh 9 43- 26-
148/ 16.4
Bob Hodges 9 35- 30-
109/ 12.1
Ronald Olsen 8 13- 5-
48/ 6.0
Jim Coshow 9 18- 5-
47/ 5.2
Virgil Riley 8 7- 4-
39/ 4.9
Henry McDonald 7 2- 3-
31/ 4.4
Hank D'Antonio 5 9- 3-
21/ 4.2
Robert Jeangerard 3 6- 6-
18/ 6.0
John F. Miller 7 2- 0-
10/ 1.4
Dick Baker 3 2- 0-
8/ 2.7
Eddie White Injured
USA TOTALS 9 249- 143-
641/ 71.2
OPP. TOTALS 9 228- 126-
582/ 64.7

NOTE: Individual statistical totals for field goals made and free throws made reflect cumulatives of only seven games. Box scores for USA versus Argentina and United Arab Republic are unavailable.

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