The 1956 Olympics were held in Melbourne, Australia. This was the first time that the Olympics were held in the southern hemisphere.

Melbourne had defeated Buenos Aires, Argentina by one vote (21-20) at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to secure the Games.

The location of the Games in the southern hemisphere meant that the European athletes were competing in their winter and it also meant that because of Australia’s quarantine restrictions the equestrian events had to be held in Norway some five and a half months prior to the Melbourne Games.

Australia had always been isolated from the rest of the world by its geography and in recent times by a war and the nation was starved for international recognition and fraternization.

Controversy surrounded the Games in that China boycotted the Games because of the presence in the Games of Chinese Formosa, Russia invaded Hungary to put down the Hungarian uprising, and Egypt, Iraq and Lebanon stayed at home due to Israel’s invasion of Egypt during the Suez War.

Despite these setbacks a total of 67 countries participated in the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games. The Games were a great success and became known as the “Friendly Games” because of the attitude and friendliness of the Australian people.

Highlights of the Games

  • The Games were opened in front of 103,000 people at the Melbourne Cricket Ground by a young Queen Elizabeth 2nd of England.
  • Bob Morrow, USA (2 Gold) and Vladimir Kuts, USSR (2 Gold), and Betty Cuthbert, Australia (3 Gold) were stars in the track and field.
  • The Australian team dominated the swimming competition.
  • The Indian men’s hockey team won the Gold Medal for the sixth consecutive Olympics.

Australian Olympic Highlights

  • Betty Cuthbert (3) and Shirley Strickland (2) won Gold in athletics.
  • Dawn Fraser (2) Murray Rose (3), Lorraine Crapp (2), Jon Hendricks (2), David Theile, K O’Halloran, Jon Devitt, Faith Leech, and Sandra Morgan won Gold in swimming.
  • A young athlete named Ron Clarke ignited the Olympic Cauldron with the flame from the Olympic Torch.
  • Australia made their Olympic debut in basketball.
  • A whole new generation of national sporting heroes such as Cuthbert, Fraser, Crapp, Henricks and Rose was born.

Australian Olympic Men’s Basketball Team Preparation

Australia first participated in Olympic Basketball at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics and as the host nation Australia had automatic entry into the competition.

In view of the impending Olympics there were a number of invitation basketball tournaments and competitions (particularly between SA and Victoria) and the annual Australian Championships (between States) held so that players and selectors could prepare for Australia’s first Olympic appearance in basketball. A Selection Committee was formed by having one representative from each State submit a list of names for Olympic selection.

The 1956 Olympic team was selected following the 1955 Australian Championships.

The Australian Olympic Basketball Team was made up of five players from South Australia, four from Victoria, and three from New South Wales.

Ken Watson (Victoria) was the Head Coach, Harry Burgess (NSW) was the Assistant Coach and Percy Foster (Victoria) the Manager. There was some criticism of the selections as there were claims that the State balances on the team were politically motivated.

Watson was in his second year as coach of Victoria. At the time he was also Secretary of Victoria and the Australian Basketball Union. His wife Betty, herself a legend in basketball said, “People had no idea how hard we had to work…we did everything and Ken was organizing and doing the coaching…it was perhaps the hardest thing we ever had to do.”

Burgess, from Strathfield in Sydney, was the Coach of the Newtown Police Boy’s Club and the NSW State Coach for the previous two years and was renowned as a “hard-task” master and a fitness fanatic, which the players soon found out.

The team was initially “coached” by correspondence as the players remained in their home States to work.

The Australian Olympic Committee and the Australian Basketball Union did not have the funds to bring the team together in the months prior to the Games. All the players had work commitments and most were not able to afford to take time off to practice as a group. Instead players trained with their Club teams in their States.

Many of the players had European backgrounds and had learnt their basketball overseas, or from European coaches in Australia. The Australian team was truly an eclectic group.

All players were instructed to buy a copy of Adolph Rupp’s book “Championship Basketball” and to use that as a guide to their training. Stipulations were made as to what levels of fitness players were to attain. Players were mainly “on their own” to get ready.

Players were all strictly amateur and paid their own way to train and play their District/Association games in their home states. They all had “day jobs” and trained with their Clubs at night during the week and on weekends.

The South Australians travelled to Melbourne for practice games against Melbourne Club teams and this meant driving to Melbourne and back on weekends. “Finish work, get in the car, drive to Melbourne, drive back and then go to work the next day. Not difficult!” said George Dancis a team member from Adelaide.

A little over a week prior to the Games the team assembled for the first time in Melbourne at the Olympic Village in Heidelberg, a suburb of Melbourne. Once there they trained twice a day and underwent physical fitness training. The team played a number of exhibition games against other national teams (including the USSR in a game that was described by team Captain Inga Freidenfelds as “definitely being less than friendly.”)

These practice/exhibition games demonstrated clearly to the Aussies that they were significantly disadvantaged in size, speed and skills by the leading teams and that their period of training together was very inadequate.

Australia and the USSR in an exhibition game prior to the Games. Note the 224cm tall Latvian Janis Krumins of the USSR rebounding the ball. (Courtesy G. Berzzarins)

The Olympic Village

The Olympic Village had been a political problem in the years leading up to the Olympic Games. Victoria was experiencing a housing shortage and the Victorian government refused to allocate money for the Olympic Village and the federal government initially refused to help but eventually granted a $4.5 million loan to the Victorian Government.

The Village was established in Heidelberg West and was designed as a series of 841 individual dwellings (against previous Games where dormitory style accommodation was popular) which could serve as future housing. The Village included shops, a restaurant and recreation hall as well as a building housing the dining rooms, a sauna and a bank. Some 5,000 athletes and officials were housed at the Village.

“The feeling and elation I had at arriving at the Olympic Village, then during the Opening Ceremony and the Games themselves I cannot describe in simple words,” says Inga Freidenfelds the Australian team captain.

The Australians enjoyed the Village life and mixing with athletes from all around the world. The Baltic émigrés on the Australian Basketball Team did a host of catching up and mixing with compatriots from those countries with news about their original homelands. It was a time for coffees and photographs interrupted by physical training by Harry Burgess and training sessions by Ken Watson.

(Left to right) Bruce Flick, Merv Moy and Ken Finch outside their quarters at the Olympic Village (Courtesy B. Flick)

The 1956 Opening Ceremony

(Courtesy of the National Library of Australia)

The Australian Olympic Team Marching in the Opening Ceremony

(Courtesy of the National Library of Australia)

The Opening Ceremony

As the time for the Opening Ceremony drew near the Australian public and particularly the Melbournians were gripped by Olympic fever and anticipation. At 3pm the day before the Ceremony which was set down for 3pm the next day (November22nd) people began to line up outside the Melbourne Cricket Ground the site of the Opening Ceremony. On that night before the Opening Ceremony the city was paralysed by over a quarter of a million people filling the streets to celebrate.

The Australian Men’s Basketball Team joined the Australian Olympic Team in proudly marching onto the Cricket Ground on the next afternoon in the Opening Ceremony. Inga Freidenfelds and his team-mates watched in awe as a nineteen year old Ron Clarke ran the final leg of the Torch Relay. Team members gasped as Clarke was showered in hot magnesium that was coming from the spluttering and sparking torch and burnt holes in his shirt. When Clarke dipped the Torch into the Olympic Cauldron for the flame, it burst into life singeing him even further. In the centre of the ground the Australians were gathered behind sculler Mervyn Wood who was the Australian Flag Bearer and their chests filled with pride when John Landy the fastest miler in the world recited the Olympic Oath on behalf of the athletes. (It should be noted that Billy Larrakayeh an aboriginal and star basketball player in Darwin had the honour of being the first runner to relay the Olympic Flame on Australian soil when he carried the Olympic Torch on the first leg of the relay from the airplane at Darwin airport).

To those basketball players who had emigrated from the war torn Europe this all seemed a dream, and so far from the devastation and ravages that they and their families had endured. This was what freedom and living in peace was all about.

Ron Clarke ignites the 1956 Olympic Cauldron

(Courtesy of the National Library of Australia)

The Olympic Basketball Tournament

The decision as to where the Olympic Basketball Tournament was to be played was not made until three months before the opening of the Games. A number of sites had been considered including the St Moritz ice-skating rink, Wirth Park and South Melbourne Technical School. The decision was to build basketball courts at the Exhibition Buildings on the site of the burnt out Aquarium. The new $35,000 building was completed in twelve weeks in time for the Games Opening Ceremony.

The Melbourne Exhibition Hall was built in 1880 and located in the Carlton Gardens at the north-eastern edge of the business district. The building hosted the opening of the first Parliament of Australia in 1901. It was the main indoor venue for the 1956 Olympics and hosted basketball, wrestling and weight-lifting.

The Basketball Hall had temporary seating installed for 3,500 spectators.

The Technical Committee for the basketball games was an all Springfield, USA (the birth place of basketball) affair with R.W. Jones of England, Dr F Help of Hungary and Dr. Iva Burge of Australia all having attended Springfield College in the USA.

There were fifteen teams in the Basketball Tournament and it is fair to say that many of these teams also had limited preparation as funds post World War Two were still difficult to raise for the long trip to Australia. Five of the teams came from Asia as it was less expensive to get to Australia than from Europe.

The invasion of Hungary by the Soviet Union a few weeks prior to the Olympics and the recent nationalization of the Suez Canal and the “Six Day War” between Israel and Egypt also affected the number of participants in the basketball.

The USA was the favourite to win the Tournament as the team contained players such as the giant Bill Russell and the guard KC Jones who both joined the NBA after the Olympics and became legends of the game. The USSR was the champion of Europe and featured the 2.28 metres giant Latvian Janis Krumins (sometimes referred to as Krouminch) and was expected to provide the major competition to the Americans.

Inga Freidenfelds a 21 years old South Australian was named as Captain of the Australian Team and to this day is our youngest ever Olympic Basketball Captain.

The competition was organized into three groups of four teams and one group of three teams.

Australia was drawn in group D with Brazil and Chile.

The top two teams in each group would go through to play for positions 1-8, the bottom two teams (or in Group D the bottom team) would go into playoffs for positions 9-15.

The Australian players were eager to get things started after the Opening Ceremony and their week or so in the Village. Their first game was on the 24th of November three days after the Opening Ceremony.

A game at the Exhibition Centre 1956 Olympic Games

(Courtesy National Library of Australia)

Group D: Brazil, Chile, Australia

Note: There are no statistics or descriptions of any of the Australian Team’s games and there is no surviving Official Australian Team Report-if there ever was one, though there are FIBA statistics for the top 20 players in each category (e.g. scoring, rebounding) for the tournament. The summaries of the games below rely heavily on the diaries and memories of the players.

A 1956 Olympic Games ID Card (Courtesy I. Bumbers)

Game 1: Australia 66 v Brazil 89 (35-50)

In the 1952 Helsinki Olympics the Brazilians had secured 6th place and were a world class side. The Australians were still working out their combinations and their lack of match practice together would make things difficult. However they did have players of international experience so they gave themselves some chance. The Australians were also hampered in that their Captain Freidenfelds could not play due to an ankle injury. His scoring abilities would be missed.

But here they were ready to play the first Olympic basketball game by Australia. Australia started with Moy and Burdett as guards, Ignatavicius, Dancis and Bumbers as the forwards.

The Brazilians showed their power and international experience in the first half capitalising on some Australian defensive errors and making several interceptions leading to fast-break baskets. But the Australian still had some hope with the half-time score being 50-35 in favour of Brazil. Dancis was doing a good job in the rebounding and Bumbers and Ignatavicius were scoring quite well. Perhaps the nerves were too much or perhaps they needed more time together but Brazil powered away for a 23 point win. It wasn’t the start they wanted but the team was not disgraced.

Australia: Dancis12, Moy 6, Ignatavicius 14, Bumbers 20, Burdett 2, Dargis 2, Heskett 5, Demos 3, Sutton 2

Game 2: Australia 56 v Chile 78 (27-37)

Chile finished in 5th position in the 1952 Helsinki Olympics and 6th in the 1948 London Olympics and were a formidable side. Freidenfelds would return for the Australians but was not 100% fit. Australia started with Ignatavicius, Heskett, Bumbers, Dancis and Freidenfelds. From a score of 9-9 the Australians shot out to lead 17-11. From that score errors crept into the Australian’s game and the Chileans enjoyed a number of interceptions and fast-break baskets. As in the game against Brazil the Australians were competitive in the first half. They were still working out their combinations. Dancis was again doing very well in the scoring and rebounding and Ignatavicius was scoring well, but the lack of all round scoring and easy baskets was having its toll. At half-time the Australians were down 37-27 and were still well in the game. However as in the previous game the greater strength, experience and perhaps fitness and match play together allowed Chile to power away in the second half for a comfortable 22 point win.

Australia: Dancis 19, Moy 3, Ignatavicius 13, Bumbers 6, Demos 2, Flick 3, Heskett 2, Freidenfelds 8,

Chile and Brazil went on to the next round where they competed for positions 1-8 while Australia was relegated to the playoffs for positions to 9-15.

Australia was placed in Group C for the 9-15th positions.

Quarter Finals

The Quarter Finals for places 9-15 were arranged in two groups.

Group C: Australia, Thailand, Formosa, Singapore.

Group D: Canada, Japan, Korea

Game 3: Australia 87 v Thailand 48 (48-23)

Thailand, like Australia, was playing in their first Olympics and had limited international experience. They were a team smaller than Australia but they were certainly a quick team.  Their star player Chen Tsu-ling would go on to be the third top scorer in the Olympic tournament.

With Ignatavicius again prominent and Freidenfelds recovering from his injury the Australians powered away in the first half to lead 48-23 at half-time. The Thais did fight back in the second half with the Australians freely using their bench but the Australians were always the better team and they ran out comfortable winners 87-48.

The feeling amongst the players was that this was more like it and they were starting to play basketball as they knew they could.

Australia: Dancis 10, Moy 3, Ignatavicius 26, Bumbers 4, Dargis 4, Flick 6, Heskett 4, Finch4, Freidenfelds 23, Sutton 3

George Dancis (12) rebounds against Thailand while Inga Freidenfelds (9) helps (Public Record Office of Victoria)

Game 4: Australia 73 v Formosa 85 (40-39)

Formosa was one of six Asian teams in the tournament and this was also their first Olympics in basketball. Formosa was similar to Thailand in that they were a fast team that liked to move the ball quickly and play fast-break basketball. The issue for them would be rebounding. Could they compete with the likes of George Dancis who was proving to be one of the best rebounders and big men in the tournament?

The game was always close in the first half with neither team being able to break away. At half-time Australia led by one point 40-39. In the second half the Australians found the speed and skill of Formosa to be difficult to handle. The Formosans were unable to handle Dancis who scored 28 points. He received good support from Bumbers but the Australians went on to lose by 12 points 85-73. The Australian players were disappointed that they did not get a win here but credit to the Formosans who used their speed, skills and weaving plays to move the bigger Australians around and expose them to one-on-one defence.

Australia: Dancis 28, Moy 4, Ignatavicius 5, Bumbers 12, Burdett 2, Flick 2, Heskett 4, Freidenfelds 16

Australia v Formosa 1956 Olympic Games Algis Ignatavicius (16)

rebounds for Australia (Courtesy Public Record Office of Victoria)

Game 5: Australia 98 v Singapore 74 (48-36)

Singapore was also playing in its first Olympics and played a similar style to the Australians previous opponents Formosa and Thailand. By now the Australian teamwork was improving and they were now more familiar with the “Asian style” of basketball which was new to many of the Australians.They now knew what to do against the weaves and fast-breaks of Asian teams. With shooter Peter Bumbers back on track and Freidenfelds, Ignatavicius and Dancis dominating Australia converted a half-time lead of 12 points into a 98-74 win with all players getting court time.

Australia: Dancis 15, Moy 2, Ignatavicius 17, Bumbers 32, Heskett 7, Finch 1, Freidenfelds 22, Sutton 2

Australia (dark uniforms) v Thailand 1956 Olympic Games (Public Record Office of Victoria)

Australia finished second in the group and now faced Canada in the cross-over game.

Game 6: Australia 38 v Canada 83 (18-30)

Canada had obtained 9th position in both the 1952 Helsinki and 1948 London Olympic Games and was an experienced international team. As geographical neighbours of the USA many of their players had been influenced by the American game. The Canadians had defeated Singapore by 27 points in the preliminary phase games while Australia had accounted for the same team by 24 points.

Now the Australian Team was not facing the skill and speed of the Asians but the deliberate and very physical play of a strong and big team in the Canadians.

The Canadians came out aggressively and the Australians had difficulty in scoring. Dancis was again competing very well inside, but the Canadian defence was shutting down the Australian scorers and their half-time lead of 30-18 blew out to an 83-38 win. The Australians were disappointed and somewhat shell-shocked with the result as they felt they should have competed better.

Australia: Dancis 15, Ignatavicius 2, Bumbers 4, Dargis 3, Demos 6, Flick 2, Freidenfelds 6

This loss relegated Australia to play off for 11th and 12th place.

Algis Ignatavicius (16) rebounds against Canada (Public Record Office, Victoria)

Game 7: Australia 70 v Formosa 87 (32-46)

Australia had now to revert to their “Asian Affair” style at which they had become reasonably comfortable in handling. In their previous encounter against Formosa the Australians had led at half-time only to go down by 12 points at fulltime. Dancis and Bumbers had been Australia’s weapons in that game. The Australian starters were Moy, Burdett, Flick, Freidenfelds and Heskett. Unfortunately the Formosans jumped out to a handy lead in the first half and at the ten minute mark led 30-8 and the Australians were struggling. Freidenfelds was having a great game and was fully recovered from his ankle injury. Dancis was his reliable self with his rolling hook-shots and aggressive rebounding. Heskett was having a good game but the half-time lead 46-32 by Formosa was too much for the Australians and there was not to be a dramatic comeback in the second half. The Australians did get the margin down to 8 points with six minutes to go. At this stage the Formosans started to “freeze the ball” (that is use the full 30 seconds before being made to shoot the ball). With their great ball control it was virtually impossible to get the ball off them without fouling. The Australians had to gamble on defence and that led to baskets for the Formosans as they ran out winners. Despite the Australian fight-back effort Formosa cruised to a 17 point win.

Australia: Dancis 15, Ignatavicius 4, Bumbers 2, Burdett 2, Heskett 13, Freidenfelds 29, Sutton 4

Australia finished the tournament in 12th place.

Team Statistics

George Dancis led the Olympic Tournament rebounding statistics with 108 rebounds ahead of Bill Russell of the USA with 103 rebounds. Inga Freidenfelds was 8th with 60 rebounds.

George Dancis was the leading Australian scorer with 112 points followed by Inga Freidenfelds with 107 points and Peter Bumbers with 80 points. Moglia of Uruguay was the leading scorer in the tournament with 182 points.

Peter Bumbers had the 4th highest single game points in the tournament with 32 behind Yee from Singapore who had the highest single game score with 39 points. Inga Freidenfelds was 5th highest single game scorer with 31 points.

Other Australians, Dancis (28pts) Ignatavicius (26pts) and Freidenfelds (23pts) had scores over 20 points in a game

Ignatavicius was the seventh best free-throw shooter in the tournament with 17/20 at 85% behind first placed Itoyama of Japan with 36-38 at 94.7%. Peter Bumbers was next best for the Australians with 14/18 at 77.8%

Australia had six referees participate in the tournament. They were Bill Annells (4 games) Doug Hughes (8 games) Charlie Jones (5 games) Ray Strath (9 games) Dave Thomas (9 games) Paul Wiltshire (6 games). Ray Strath had the honour of refereeing the Olympic Final.

Tournament top scorers: Moglia (Uruguay) 182, Kwan (Singapore) 146, Chen Tsu-ling (Thailand) 143, Radev (Bulgaria) 137 Pickel (Canada) 131 Russell (USA) 130

Rule changes:

Rule changes for the Melbourne Olympics included the enlargement of the free-throw area trapezium (keyhole), the thirty second rule for a team in possession to shoot the ball, and no free throws on fouls committed in the front court but possession of the ball by the offended team.

Australian Team Results:

Brazil 89 Australia 66

Chile 78 Australia 56

Australia 87 Thailand 48

Formosa 86 Australia 73

Australia 98 Singapore 74

Canada 83 Australia 38

Formosa 87 Australia 70

Olympic Tournament Results

The Russians were upset in their second game by an excellent French Team that contained players such as Jean Paul Beugnot, Roger Antoine, Christian Baltzer and Andre Buffiere. An Assistant Coach for the French Team was Joe Frajut the former French National Women’s Team Coach and now a resident and coach in Sydney.  Merv Emms a Basketball Australia Hall Of Fame Member remembers, “Joe was the first coach I ever encountered who talked about fundamentals and demonstrated fundamental drills”. The French went on to win their Group (B). Other Group winners were the USA (Group A), Uruguay (Group C) and Brazil (Group D).

The positions for first to eighth were played in two groups with France (3-0) winning Group A with Uruguay second (2-1). Group B was won by the USA (3-0) with the Soviet Union second (2-1)

The Medals

Semi Finals:

France, Uruguay, USA and the USSR qualified for the Semi-Finals.

The USSR defeated France 56-45 while the USA defeated Uruguay 101-38.


Gold Medal

The Olympic Final for the Gold Medal was one-sided, particularly as Bill Russell was too agile and skilled for the giant soviet player Krumins. The USA went on the win the Gold Medal 89-55 (52-27).


Bronze Medal: Uruguay defeated France 71-62 (37-29) to win the Bronze Medal.

Final standings:

  1. USA
  2. USSR
  3. Uruguay
  4. France
  5. Bulgaria
  6. Brazil
  7. Philippines
  8. Chile
  9. Canada
  10. Japan
  11. Formosa
  12. Australia
  13. Singapore
  14. Korea
  15. Thailand


In a Report by John Butt and others it was stated, “At the outset of the Tournament it was evident that the Australian Team would have to greatly increase the tempo of their game if they were to do well in the competition. The teams from the USA, Japan, Uruguay and Brazil played fast basketball with a great deal of slashing and cutting to the basket. The French, USSR, Philippines and Bulgarian teams played a slower more careful style of basketball. They often left one or two players back as guards (to stop the other team’s fast breaks) and were prepared to take their time setting up their offense. Most of the teams used a three man weaving attack at the top of the keyhole” (J. Butt, B. Bradshaw, B. Miller, and B. Devine Report to the Department of Education)

In their Report the authors went on to comment that the most popular defence was a combination of zone and man-to-man in which two forwards and the centre formed a loose zone at the top of the key (to mainly combat the 3 man weave) while the other two players played a loose man to man defence.

The Australian Basketball Union (ABU) stated in the IOC Official Olympic 1956 Report, “The fast¸ neat and clever ball-handling of the Far Eastern teams was at all times a delight to watch; the systematic effectiveness of the tall, fast and agile USA team consistently evoked admiration.”

The ABU went on to conclude. “The spirit of the teams was throughout friendly and co-operative. All matches were played with a sportsmanship which reflected credit on every team which participated.”

The Australian Team members felt that better preparation and time together as a team in the months before the Games would have greatly enhanced their chances of success against the opposition as well as their ability to handle these tactics.

The umpiring was also very different to what the Australian players experienced in Australia where the game was umpired more on the American interpretations rather than the European (FIBA) style which dominated the Olympic competition.

Looking back the team did Australia proud. They were a group of players from different States of Australia, many were migrants from Europe, they were coached by an Australian yet they came together with a great-spirit and pride despite very limited time together and no real financial assistance.

It was here that the reputation of future Australian Basketball teams as being dogged, tough, no-nonsense, fair, team players was forged out of a mixture of players some of whom had suffered the devastations of war in Europe. This forged mixture along with their sense of a new country that was becoming cosmopolitan, energetic, proud of itself and all the while retaining that underdog ANZAC spirit was to be the foundation spirit of future Australian basketball teams.

Australia was now in the Olympic basketball arena for the first time and from these humble beginnings was to become a world power in basketball.

Members of the 1956 Olympic Team at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games (Left to right): Inga Freidenfelds George Dancis, fourth from left Ken Finch, Bruce Flick, Geoff Heskett and Merv Moy.

(Courtesy of Basketball Australia)

Informal photograph of the 1956 Australian Team at the Olympic Village

(Courtesy of I. Freidenfelds)

An official 1956 Australian Olympic Basketball Team photo has not been found and the players cannot remember one being taken. The photo above was taken by team member Peter Bumbers. In the middle of the photo are Peter’s wife Vita and his very proud son Ivor showing his muscles.

From left to right: Percy Foster (Manager), Stan Dargis, Algimantis Ignatavicius, Geoff Heskett, Vita Bumbers (Peter’s wife), Ivor Bumbers (Peter’s son), Juris (George) Dancis, Peter Demos (kneeling), Ken Finch, Inga Freidenfelds, Peter Sutton (peeking through), Bruce Flick, Mervyn Moy, Colin Burdett.

Unofficial Team photograph of the 1956 Australian Olympic Men’s Basketball Team (C. Burdett)

This photo was probably taken by Assistant Coach Harry Burgess at the Olympic Village.

Front row: Peter Demos, Collin Burdett Stan Dargis.

Middle row: Algimantas (Algy) Ignatavicius, Peter Sutton, Percy Foster (Manager), Bruce Flick, Ken Finch, Peter Bumbers,

Back row: Ken Watson (Coach), George Dancis, Merv Moy Geoff Heskett, Inga Freidenfelds.


The Australian Team:


  • No 3 Peter Demos, Forward Vic. Age 30 height185cms wt 81.5kls
  • No 4 Geoff Heskett, Guard Vic. Age 25 height 188cms wt 74.5kls
  • No 7 Peter Bumbers, Forward Vic. Age 30 height 185cms wt 76kls
  • No 8 Stan Dargis, Guard Vic. Age 28 height 179cms wt 71kls.
  • No 9 Inga Freidenfelds, Centre SA Age 21 height 189cms wt 75.5kls
  • No 10 Colin Burdett, Guard SA. Age 25 height183cms wt 76kls
  • No 12 George Dancis, Centre SA. Age 24 height 198cms wt 195kls
  • No 15 Peter Sutton, Guard SA. Age 24 height 180cms wt 73.5kls
  • No 16 Algis Ignatavicius, Guard SA Age 24 height183cms wt 79.5kls
  • No 17 Merv Moy, Guard NSW Age 26 height 185cms wt 74.5kls.
  • No 18 Ken Finch, Guard NSW Age 20 height178cms wt 74.5kls.
  • No 19 Bruce Flick, Forward NSW Age: 23 height 175cms wt 70kls


Average age: 25 years Average height 184cms Average weight 77.5kls

Head Coach: Ken Watson (Vic)

Assistant Coach: Harry Burgess (NSW)

Manager: Percy Foster (Vic)

Referees: Bill Annells, Doug Hughes, Charlie Jones, Ray Strath, Dave Thomas, Paul Wiltshire.