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85-plus seniors basketball team

Bob Falos of Lincoln (far right) poses with his USA California teammates after winning the National Senior Games 85-plus division basketball championship 40-21 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The No. 5 jersey represented a missing teammate who couldn't make the trip due to an injury.

Lincolnite Bob Falos, 85, brought home a National Senior Games gold medal as the leading scorer for all teams in the 85-plus men’s basketball division this summer in Albuquerque, New Mexico. His USA California team won all six games by a total of 247 points to only 79 scored by opponents, winning the championship game 40-21.

“We did it with only seven players, because one of our teammates couldn’t make it due to an injury,” said Falos, who scored 66 points in six games of three-on-three half-court basketball at the University of New Mexico.

Falos said he was asked to play on the California team after scoring 31 points against the team four years ago, when he played for a Texas team at the National Senior Games in Minneapolis.

“They knew who I was,” he said with a smile. Falos and his USA California teammates competed at the National Senior Games two years ago in Birmingham, Alabama.

Back in his high school days, Falos played on a state champion basketball team at Grand Forks, North Dakota in 1952.

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“But my forte was football,” he said. “I was a quarterback at the University of North Dakota, and I also played baseball there.”

Falos taught physical education and health for Lincoln Public Schools from 1966 to 1994, after beginning his teaching career in Minnesota and California. When he retired, he started playing basketball for the Masters Basketball Association. He played for U.S. basketball teams in two World Games – in the 65-plus division in Finland, and in the 70-plus division in Slovenia.

“I’ve been doing this since I turned 60,” he said, adding that he maintains his basketball skills by playing in pickup games twice a week at Prairie Life Center in Lincoln.

This year’s Senior Games included a celebrity – actor Pat Boone played basketball in the 80-plus division for the Virginia Creepers. “He didn’t score many points, but he drew plenty of attention,” Falos said.

In all, the 2019 National Senior Games drew 14,000 participants ages 50 and older in 20 events. Falos said the next Senior Games will be in 2021 at Fort Myers, Florida.

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