Arvidas Sabonis, the Soviet Union's star basketball center, has been pronounced fit to play for the Soviet team in the upcoming Olympics, according to a published report.
The announcement about Sabonis' torn Achilles tendon was made by Soviet officials following a consultation with Soviet specialists, Aleksandr Gomelsky, senior coach of the team, told the official news agency Tass, according to Tuesday's editions of the New York Times.Sabonis had been undergoing a rehabilitation program designed and paid for by the Portland Trail Blazers - the team that drafted the Soviet citizen - to overcome the injury which has sidelined him for 18 months.
Gomelsky said Soviet doctors said the 7-foot-3 Sabonis should "continue the process of rehabilitiation and moderate training sessions so as to ensure his gradual re-entry into basketball."
Gomelsky also said that with the addition of Sabonis to the lineup, the Soviet team has "a real chance to win the gold at Seoul."
In Portland, Ore., Trail Blazer President Harry Glickman said he had not heard earlier of the decision.
"I knew they wanted him to play, though, so I'm not too surprised," Glickman said.
Sabonis, 23, a native of Lithuania, spent four months in Portland undergoing the rehabilitation program.
Before he left Portland on July 30, he had been warned against playing in the Olympics by both Dr. Kestutis Vitkus, his Soviet surgeon, and Dr. Robert Cook, the Blazers' team physician.