EuroLeague Final 1976: Real Madrid again, can’t handle the power of Varese

por Roberto Anidos publicado en 1976 Decade 70 EuroLeague Real Madrid Varese

The competition starts with 23 teams, there were two qualifying rounds from which VARESE, ZADAR, ASVEL BASKET, MAES PILS and MACCABI were exempted

In the previous round
Real Madrid eliminated Reykjavik
The Cantu eliminated the Sanichaufer
The Federale eliminated the Dukla
The Akademik eliminated the Gieben
Wien eliminated the Resovia
The Rotterdam eliminated the Bromley
The Turum eliminated the Panathinaikos

After the two previous rounds, 12 teams played the regular league. They were divided into two groups of six teams, with the top two from each group going straight into the semi-finals. The competition system played everyone against everyone else in a round-robin game and the winner by points scored a victory.

VARESE (5-0)
TURUN (1-4)
ZADAR (1-4)

CANTU (4-1)
WIEN (2-3)

Once the regular league was over, the semi-finals were played in a round-robin format between REAL MADRID and ASVEL BASKET and the Italian duel against the omnipresent VARESE and CANTU.

VARESE eliminated CANTU (95-85); (70-78)
REAL MADRID eliminated the ASVEL BASKET (113-77); (101-99)

The final was played in the Swiss city of Geneva and for the second year in a row the «basket-force» of Pallacanestro Varese (now called Mobilgirgi after the change of sponsor) ended Real Madrid’s hopes and managed to match the Spanish team’s record as five-time European champion. The final result reflects the merits of both sides, as the Italian team showed itself to be a team with more resources than the Whites.

From the very first minute, the Italians imposed a very tough individual defence that perfectly closed all attempts at penetration and forced the Madrid players to look for positions far from the shot. Rullan always crashed against Meneghin, while his substitute Luyk – in the decline of his professional career – was forced to maintain a hard and unbalanced fight under the boards with men of the stature of Morse, Campion or Meneghin. On the other hand, the permissive refereeing of the members of the team made it possible for Varese to maintain a constant defensive rhythm. In this way, after five minutes of the match the score already indicated a clear 16-8 in favour of Mobilgirgi, although after a change of players and tactics (Lolo Sáinz replaced Rullán, with three personal fouls, for Luyk and ordered defence in zone 2-3) Real Madrid managed to equalise to 20 points (min. 9), thanks to an unstoppable Walter, well assisted in the scoring facet by Coughran, and with a brilliant Carmelo Cabrera in the direction and the ball steals. From that moment on, there was a succession of draws in the electronic system, as Mobilgirgi, thanks to the successes of Morse and Meneghin, did not let the initiative be taken away. Although the Italian team suffered the loss of Iellini – who was already suffering from an injury – by spraining an ankle, his replacement Zanatta was responsible for destroying the Madrid zone with five terrifying shots from medium distance. In the midst of a great equality in the game and in the scoreboard, it was arrived at the rest with minimum advantage of the varesino set (43-42).

In the second half, Real Madrid returned to the defense to try to contain Zanatta, although this allowed more mobility to other players of the Mobilgirgi, as the point guard Ossola, who got his nine points in the second half. The rest of his teammates continued to play with the same intensity as in the first half (with special mention in this chapter for Meneghin and Morse), while on the Madrid side two of their most decisive players in attack, Walter and Coughran, were tied up and could not shine as they did in the first twenty minutes. The Mobilgirgi grew at times and, although the advantages were never great, five minutes from the end you could already guess the champion. Although Real Madrid adopted a desperate defence, the Italians continued to play their game in an orderly fashion and did not lose the ball. With two minutes remaining, 76-68 in favour of the Varesinos, the cries of «campioni, campioni!» began to emerge from the stands of the Patinoire in Geneva.

*Ossola – 9p, 3br.
*Iellini – 0p, 5r, 5a.
*Morse – 28p, 4r.
*Meneghin – 23p, 11r.
*Campion – 7p, 2r.
Zanatta – 14p, 2r.
Bisson – 0p, 2r.

*Cabrera – 6p, 4br.
*Brabender – 22p, 4r.
*Szczerbiak – 24p, 1br.
*Coughran – 16p, 7r.
*Rullán – 2p, 1r.
Luyk – 2p, 5r.
Cristóbal – 2p, 1r.
Corbalán – 0p.