After the first two-legged sieve in the Round of 16, the team moved on to the regular league. This year none of the greats missed their appointment to try to qualify for the final four. There are only two new tenants Dutch Den Helder and Polish Lech Poznan, although with little chance of remaining in the top positions
Den Helder eliminated Maes Pils
Lech Poznan eliminated Stroitel
Milan’s Olympia eliminated Bracknell
Limoges eliminated Pully Basket
Barcelona eliminated the Prievidza
Aris Thessaloniki eliminated Balkan
Maccabi eliminated Klosterneuburg
Jugoplastika eliminated Livingston
For the second consecutive year, the young Balkan talents of Jugoplastika won the continental trophy. Their opponents, Barcelona, had gone through a marvellous preliminary phase, and they also had the advantage of playing on home soil, making them clear favourites in the final. But, once again, the youngsters’ magnificent game of fundamentals Kukoč, Rađa, Savić, Perasović and company, coupled with a mental endurance unbecoming their age, ended up tipping the scales in their favour.
The azulgrana went out to the track past of revolutions, as if they tried to finish with the rival to the first of change. They wanted to impose their rhythm of play from the first minute and intimidate the Yugoslavs with a superaggressive defense. Epi and Solozábal pursued Ivanović and Sretenović as possessed, making a great physical wear. This effort was only translated into a minimal advantage (10-15, min. 6), at the expense of Solozábal committing his third personal foul in just six minutes and had to retire to the bench (which made the game of Barcelona resented remarkably, as his replacement, Costa, imposed a rhythm too crazy). The Jugoplastika, meanwhile, dosed his strengths better, waiting to weather the storm (the rival’s and referees’ excessively permissive with the locals). Their attacks were long and they were always looking for the man who remained free as a result of the constant defensive help of Barcelona. This, coupled with the area raised by Maljković, made the Yugoslavs start to escape on the scoreboard (31-22, min. 16). Only the sporadic flashes of some azulgrana players and errors in the free throws of Kukoč maintained a balanced result at the end of the first part (40-36, after an incredible triple in the last second of Perasović from his own track).
The second half continued along the same paths: the Jugoplastika set the pace of the match and Barcelona was towed. The Yugoslavs, thanks to a magnificent defense, managed to leave Barcelona without scoring a single point in four minutes, and with a partial 8-0 in this period escaped again on the scoreboard (52-43, min. 28). However, the loss of concentration of the men of Maljković halfway through the second half was used by the azulgrana to cut differences, to equal the score with a triple Solozábal (59-59, min. 33) and then even put ahead after a counterattack culminated with a mate Jiménez (59-61, min. 34). The «Príncipe Felipe» Pavilion was bursting with joy, with blue-haired fans who were beginning to dream of the first European Cup of Barcelona. But the Catalans continued to make too many mistakes in attack, and this, coupled with the fact that Kukoč decided to assume the responsibility attacker in these final moments, ended up sentencing the final in favor of Jugoplastika. After a new stretch of Split (70-63, min. 36), Aíto’s men were prey to nervousness and precipitation (clearly reflected in a mate back failed by Norris with hardly any opposition) and could not even force an equal end to the match. A significant fact: Barcelona only scored four points in the last six minutes of the match – a basket of Wood and two free throws of Epi, little baggage for a team that aspired to reign in Europe.