The competition begins with 24 teams. Framed in six groups of four and three teams, the champion of each group will qualify for the final league
This year’s final was played in Belgrade and for the first time in history, an Israeli team, Tel Aviv’s Maccabi, reached the final of the European Cup, although it was surrounded by great controversy, as he won two technical victories against teams from communist countries (Spartak-Zbrojovka Brno and CSKA Moscow) who refused to play in Israel for political reasons, and played the visiting matches against these same teams on neutral courts in Belgium (which, with the majority attendance of Hebrew fans, had nothing neutral). The rest of the semi-finalists protested against this advantageous situation for Maccabi – as well as the absurdity of seeing a Middle Eastern country like Israel take part in a European competition – but FIBA never thought that the «weak» Israeli team would make it this far in the competition, and when the macabeo team wanted to realize it had already qualified for the final (although, in spite of his two technical victories achieved in the offices and other two in field «pseudoneutral», had to wait for a carambola in the last day, after a triple tie with Real Madrid and CSKA).
In the final, played in Belgrade, Maccabi faced the hard and experienced team of Mobilgirgi, great dominator of European basketball in the 70s, which had already defeated him clearly in both games of the preliminary phase. In the stands of the Pionir pavilion, Italian fans rubbed their hands before the match, thinking that the «Maccabi de Levantar» would be in front of them, an affordable rival that had classified itself rocambambly ahead of more powerful squads like Real Madrid and CSKA Moscow (precisely because the Mobilgirgi «threw» the last match in Moscow, where it went with a team of circumstances). However, what the tifosi varesinos found was an orderly and well-managed team from the bench, which from the first minute showed that it had not come to Belgrade for tourism.
From the very beginning, the Maccabees’ defence put the Mobilgirgi in serious trouble. RalphKlein had designed an individual allocation scheme that did not concentrate so much on the Varesian figure, Bob Morse, but defended the pass zone between Ossola and the American forward. This tactic seemed to work at first, as Morse did not get his first points until the eighth minute of the match, when Maccabi was already doubling the «Girgi» on the scoreboard (14-7). Aulcie Perry, with his endless arms, was a colossus under his own hoop, intimidating his pair Meister and taking countless rebounds. Mistakes followed one another in a strangely nervous Varsino outfit, and in this way the Israeli champions achieved their maximum advantage of the match (30-19, min. 16). Maccabi made it to half-time with a substantial lead (39-30), despite foul problems from Aulcie Perry (who Meneghin’s mischievousness managed to take out four staff in a row when Sandro Gamba replaced Meister with Bisson and exchanged his pivot assignments).
At the restart, the Hebrew cadre switched to zone defense to protect their most foul laden men. This caused Meister to wake up and bring his team closer on the scoreboard (47-45, min. 26). At the time, Tal Brody and Jim Boatwright pulled the macabeo cart and managed to maintain a level playing field against the Italian thrust, which for the first time in the entire match managed to draw (61-61, min. 33). The Israeli team did not get nervous, and managed to enter the final stretch of the match with a constant initiative on the scoreboard. With one minute to go and Maccabi (76-75) one point clear, Bisson missed a clear chance to put his team ahead. With only 12 seconds of play, with the score at 78-77 for the Maccabees and possession of the ball, Lou Silver missed a crucial shot but caught his own rebound, although the English referee Turner whistles incredible steps to the despair of Israeli players. There were seven seconds left and it seemed that the Mobilgirgip could finally impose its experience and favoritism with a final shot. The Italians put the ball in play and Ossola tries to pass Morse, but Maccabi’s strong defence makes the ball go out. With only a second to go and the ball in their possession, the Israelis have no difficulty in winning.