Gli scudetti dell’Olimpia Milano nei playoff: nove finali da ricordare

Olimpia will play the twentieth final in their history from Wednesday (to which five play-offs should be added, all played against Varese, three of which were won, in 1962, in 1966 at the table, in 1972 and two lost, in 1971 and 1973). Nine of the previous 19 finals have won them. Here they are.


After a wait of ten years, Olimpia is back to win the Scudetto, the first in the playoff era. In previous years he had lost a final with Virtus and a semifinal in the second overtime at home against Cantù. The previous summer he had acquired the striker Roberto Premier from Gorizia but above all Dino Meneghin from Varese, two decisive purchases in the following years. After a troubled regular season also due to many injuries, the Billy changed gear with the return of Meneghin and never stopped. In the final, he won in Pesaro Race 1 and then completed the work at San Siro in a hard-fought Race 2 in which Mike D’Antoni devastated the Pesaro star Dragan Kicanovic – who the Croatian coach Petar Skansi kept on the bench for the whole first half, a choice that has never been fully clarified even today – with his defense. John Gianelli made the decisive block on Mike Sylvester, an ex, and the Scudetto returned to Milan. “Kicanovic wanted to kill me after race 1 but I had Meneghin behind me. Everything also happened in the locker room and then Skansi didn’t let him play for the whole first half, ”says D’Antoni. But the symbolic image of the first championship, “when – D’Antoni always says – I took a weight off my shoulders because I was beginning to suffer”, was John Gianelli’s block on Sylvester. For Gianelli, who was very criticized at the beginning, it was a great revenge. That team had five out of ten players produced by the youth sector and a sixth, Vittorio Ferracini, who had arrived in Milan at 16.


After two other finals lost in a controversial way in Rome and against Granarolo Bologna, Olimpia takes the Scudetto with an irresistible team that takes advantage of the explosion in the second half of the year by Russ Schoene and the arrival of Joe Barry Carroll who convinces Coach Dan Peterson to change his set-up by giving up Wally Walker, a winger, for an extra center (in the meantime Renzo Bariviera had returned via Cantù) to be deployed alongside Dino Meneghin. Carroll’s talent was unreal for Italy. Against Turin, in the semifinal at one point he put nine shots in a row improvising a clinic of movements in the low post, shots from the average, spectacular hooks. His arrival forced Meneghin to act as a wingman but Meneghin was only interested in winning and he knew that he would do it with Carroll. In the playoffs, Milan wins all the games and became the first to complete them undefeated. The last act took place in Pesaro, without the uncertainties of three years earlier.


It was since 1967 that Olimpia hadn’t won two consecutive league titles. In 1985/86 he won the regular season, then he had to foil the assault of Turin in the semifinals (the Piedmontese won Game 1 at the Lido) and complete the work against Oscar Schmidt’s great Caserta in the final, 2-1. Confirmed Russ Schoene, who played a dominant season, the second American was the 20 year old from Georgia, Cedric Henderson, immature but of enormous athletic talent, a multifunctional defender who also exploded in the second half of the season. It was also the first year of Fausto Bargna to shore up the long sector. That team also won the Italian Cup, but had no luck in the Champions Cup where it was eliminated from the final to the last round of the elimination round for a concomitance of results.


The year of the “Three-peat”, three consecutive titles, and the Grand Slam. Perhaps the greatest season in the club’s history. Olimpia took on the eve of the season Kenny Barlow, rookie from Notre Dame, and the great Bob McAdoo, who had been MVP in the NBA, top scorer and had also won two titles with the Lakers. Riccardo Pittis was launched in the first team with an important role (while Renzo Bariviera was no longer there). He started slowly, but then he unlocked and went on to win everything, the Italian Cup, the Champions Cup and even the Scudetto. The opponent in the final was still Caserta, again with Oscar as well as Nando Gentile, liquidated 3-0 but in a more balanced series than the score says. In Race 3, Pittis took the team on his shoulders and led a memorable comeback from minus 19 to the title. That Game 3 was also Dan Peterson’s last bench game until his return in 2011!


After losing the final with Pesaro in 1988, Olimpia regained the title in 1989 with Franco Casalini on the bench in a controversial season in which the first American, Bill Martin, was replaced by Albert King, the average age was very advanced but young people grew up, including Davide Pessina and Massimiliano Aldi who took the place of Bargna and Gallinari. The fifth championship of the decade was won with Piero Montecchi, who came in place of Boselli, in the quintet and sixth-man Premier. Milan eliminated Pesaro in the semifinals (2-1 with a match won at the table) and Livorno 3-2 in the final, the memorable series that has been talked about for thirty years. Andrea Forti, Livorno guard, scored at the end but the basket was considered to have expired and therefore never validated. An inappropriate update of the scoreboard, after the game was over, generated the conviction in the public that the basket had been validated with the consequences of the case. It was also the match of the historic dive with which Bob McAdoo from behind prevented Alberto Tonut from scoring two easy points on the counterattack in the final.


The scudetto of an era apart, that of Stefanel, Bepi Stefanel and the former Triestini captained by Coach Bogdan Tanjevic. Olimpia finished the regular season in fifth place and narrowly missed the Korac Cup final, but reached the playoffs in great shape after also winning the Italian Cup. In the semifinal he eliminated Virtus Bologna and in the final he beat Fortitudo Bologna 3-1 with Race 3 won away with a decisive basket by Dejan Bodiroga from the middle distance. The stars of the team besides Bodiroga were Rolando Blackman, who arrived from AEK Athens, but after a great NBA career especially in Dallas, and Nando Gentile. Tanjevic often used the perimeter quintet with Gregor Fucka as a masked center and three pure outside players including Flavio Portaluppi who was in fact, with Alberti and Sambugaro, the only veteran of the Milanese group of players.


After 18 years of abstinence, Olimpia returns to win the Scudetto, the first trophy of the Armani era. He wins it big, with a regular season closed by winning all the games of the second round (and a streak of successes reached 21), a great EuroLeague, but a daring playoff: a very hard first round with Pistoia (3-2) , a semifinal won by overcoming Sassari with three wins out of three away, and finally a final won 4-3 against Siena by winning Game 6 away with a hoop on the buzzer of Curtis Jerrells who went down in history and Game 7 at home recovering in the fourth period from less eight. MVP of the final is Alessandro Gentile, the youngest captain in the history of the club and the youngest MVP of the playoffs. It is the team of Daniel Hackett, bought in December by Siena, Keith Langford (EuroLeague top scorer in that year and first five of the same competition) and David Moss. But in the final the contribution of Nicolò Melli is also decisive, who made a sensational double double in Race 7.


Rebuilt after the elimination in the semifinals in 2015, with Jasmin Repesa on the bench, Olimpia won the championship by eliminating Trento 3-0, Venice 4-2 and Reggio Emilia in the final 4-2 again. The MVP of the championship final was Rakim Sanders, one of three players added during the season to correct the roster. In addition to him, the Lithuanian Kalnietis and the Uruguayan Batista. The other key player was Kruno Simon, a Croatian left-handed, not very athletic but of great class, an added point guard who “married” well with the devastating power of Sanders, former Fairfield winger, who would have played in his three Italian seasons ( the first in Sassari) the best basketball of his career.


Olimpia closes the regular season in second place behind Venice, but eliminates Cantù in the playoffs, then Brescia after losing Game 1 at home and in the final protects the home factor and dominates Game 6 in Trento. The key game, however, is the fifth in which a hand-to-hand battle, typical of a very physical series, is resolved by two free throws by Curtis Jerrells and then by Andrew Goudelock’s remaining block on Dominique Sutton to protect the success. The contribution of the two Lithuanians, Mindaugas Kuzminskas and Arturas Gudaitis, was also fundamental.

#championships #Olimpia #Milano #playoffs #finals #remember

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