This year the European Cup changes its competition in terms of the preliminary rounds before the group stage. In contrast to previous years, a previous group stage would now include two crosses prior to the round trip. Beginning 24 teams after the first criva were 12 and after the second crossing the six survivors played the regular league
Pallacanestro Cantu first eliminated Dudelange and then Fribourg
Olimpia Milan eliminated first Eczacibasi and then SC Moderne
Real Madrid eliminated first Alvik BK and then Crystal Palace
CSKA Moscow eliminated first Skovlunde and then Turun
Maccabi eliminated first Wien and then NN Donar
Cibona eliminated Alexandria and then Honved
Italy presented their two candidates for the group, one as reigning European champions and the other as Italian champions. The Transalpinos were the dominators of the competition and thus ended first the Cantu and second the Milan to face in an Italian final. Real Madrid had options until the end to get in but finally there was no place. Maccabi after three consecutive finals this year was very far.
In the city of Grenoble with 12,000 Italians animating two colors lived a final with all the letters. The final of the European Cup between two Italian teams for the first time could not have been more emotional. With 13 seconds remaining, 69-68 on the scoreboard, the Milanese have the ball in their possession and can claim victory. Franco Boselli throws a basket and misses; Gallinari takes the rebound and receives Brewer’s plug in his attempt to penetrate under the hoop. Peterson claims a foul, but the match ends with the invasion of the typhosi of Cantu.
Between two Italian teams who had already met four times during the season, nothing could be expected but defensive precautions at all costs. In this tessitura, the shooters were forced to throw in positions forced, with the consequent low percentage of success. Billy failed more at the start, allowed the Ford to escape gradually on the scoreboard, but always below the psychological barrier of ten points (19-12, min. 12, 27-18, min. 19). At half-time was reached with the poor result of 29-22, more due to the defensive intensity of both sets than their lack of success.
After the break was a Ford hypermotivada, with a Bryant that at times seemed unstoppable and an impeccable Riva in the end. The advantage of the Cantu was expanding and, halfway through the second half, became fifteen points (47-32, min. 27). The match seemed to have only one owner, especially after the elimination of Meneghin for personal fouls. But the Milanese shot with pride and started a pressing rabid that resulted in a partial of 0-10 (47-42, min. 30). The Billy continued to cut differences progressively, thanks largely to a Mike d’Antoni who was not only right for the hoop, but also stood as the defensive leader of his team, organizing the famous 1-3-1 midfield pressure zone that had given such good results in recent years to the team led by Dan Peterson. The Cantú side were unable to attack this defence, and confusion began to reign in their ranks. Even Marzorati, for sure throughout the match, began to lose his first balls and had to be replaced by Cattini. The Billy was only one point behind her rivals (51-50, min. 32), although at that moment the Cantu side regained their concentration and, under the guidance of extraordinary Riva and Bryant, entered the last five minutes nine points clear (61-52, min. 36).
But the Milan squad did not want to give up and fought until the end. A couple of D’Antoni’s recoveries narrowed the gap again. In the last seconds, with 69-68 on the scoreboard, the Italo-American base of Olympia starts the attack that may be definitive for his team. D’Antoni tries to force the personnel entering by the line of bottom, but the defenders of the Ford close the way to him towards the hoop; even so, he manages to pass the ball to one of the twins Boselli, Franco. His four-metre throw is repelled by the hoop towards the centre of the area, where Gallinari’s very long arms emerge to capture the rebound. The Italian power forward feints towards the basket, although in the last second he receives a spectacular stopper from Brewer, and the match ends in the middle of the invasion of the field by the Canturine fans.