In the preliminary phase, teams such as Panathinaikos, Limoges and Efes Pilsen were left by the wayside. There are only six places in the regular league and everyone wants to be there. Petrovic’s Cibona burst with force in the European Cup and a big one like Real Madrid returns to show its best version to be in the top
La Cibona eliminated CSKA Sofia in first round and then Helsingin
Real Madrid eliminated Klosterneuburg in the first round and then Vevey
Maccabi eliminated Steaua Bucharest in first round and then Oostende
CSKA Moscow eliminated Dudelange in first round and then Limoges
The Rome Virtus eliminated Kobenhavn in the first round and then Ephes Pilsen.
Virtus Bologna eliminated Honved in first round and then Panathinaikos
The regular league was a one-on-one between La Cibona and Real Madrid. The Maccabi always kept a prudential distance to try the assault to the final but in the last stretch did not succeed. CSKA were always in no man’s land and the two Italians closed the standings.
Real Madrid could not win their eighth European Cup in Athens against the revelation team of the tournament, the Cibona of Zagreb, who played an extraordinary match and gave no option to the victory of Madrid. The same Croatian team that two years earlier, in its first participation in the European Cup, had finished last in the qualifying group without having achieved a single victory, this time was a team unattainable for the rest of participants. The main responsible for this radical change is the basketball genius called Dražen Petrović, who with 36 points became the figure of the final. In short, the logic prevailed, as the Yugoslavs had already beaten the madridistas in the two games of the semifinal league and had previously defeated them in the final of the 1982 Cup Winners’ Cup.
Mirko Novosel had a zone defense during the first half, with constant changes of assignment and positions, to prevent Real Madrid from dominating the offensive rebound, while Lolo Sáinz raised an individual defense (although with help in marking Dražen Petrović). The scoreboard remained level throughout the first half, but almost always with advantages for the Cibona. The counterattack madridista did not work as usual in the white team, largely because Corbalán -very diminished physically and with a limp that was accentuated as the match progressed- was not able to run with the ball. Lopez Iturriaga was responsible for achieving points in Real Madrid to the offensive error of Brian Jackson, while Fernando Martin, perhaps burdened by his knee injury, was soon charged with personal and could not enter the game, so Wayne Robinson had to multiply in defense and attack. Although Real Madrid managed to reach the break with a slight disadvantage on the scoreboard (39-38), it was clear that the team did not work: no possibility of counterattack, with his best shooter (Jackson) denied in attack and with pivots that were decorated because they barely received balls inside.
In the second half the party returned to face for the Cibona (47-40), but just at that time Jackson released the wrist and the game returned to balance (49-48). At nine minutes, Fernando Martin returned to track, given the weak performance of Romay, but just a minute later fell eliminated by personal fouls. Although Real Madrid brought out his claw and managed to maintain the balance (65-61), paid the overexertion and was from that moment without the ability to react. The Cibonase area had become a real ordeal for the whites, and the giants Andro Knego and Mihovil Nakić had had enough of putting in plugs and capturing rebounds. From minute 33, with 69-61 in the score in favor of the Yugoslavs, Real Madrid «threw» the game for lack of resources to stop their rivals. The substitutions of Corbalán and Jackson by Velasco and Rullán (respectively) marked the beginning of the end of the whites. The plavi were already by then a real gale, with a Dražen Petrović (26 points in this period) who did what he wanted without his defender Lopez Iturriaga (loaded with four personal faults) could stop it. In the 37th minute, the Cibona achieved its maximum difference of the whole match (81-63), 18 points that left the clash seen for sentence. In the end only the minutes of the garbage were left, a moment that Dražen used Petrović to fatten even more their statistics and carry out their usual «dance» to rivals.
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