EuroLeague Final 1996: Vrankovic’s illegal stopper gives Panathinaikos first title

por Roberto Anidos publicado en 1996 Barcelona Decade 90 EuroLeague Panathinaikos
The elimination of Zalgiris Kaunas and other historic teams such as Partizan and Union Olimpija should be highlighted again in the preliminary stages before the group stage. For the rest and another season more all the big ones of the moment do not miss their annual appointment with the maximum continental competition

In the sixteenth
Barcelona, Olympiacos and Antibes were exempted from this crossing
Panathinaikos eliminated Zalgiris Kaunas
CSKA Moscow eliminated Bellinzona
Bologna Virtus eliminated Kalev
Maccabi eliminated Sibiu
Benetton eliminated the Prievidza
Ulker eliminated Oostende
Real Madrid eliminated Sheffield Sharks
Iraklis eliminated Galil Elyon
Bayern Leverkusen eliminated Budivelnik
Unicaja Malaga eliminated Zrinjevak
Benfica eliminated Partizan
Pau Orthez eliminated Union Olimpija and formerly Den Helder
In Group A, CSKA, Benetton and Olympiacos dominated from start to finish. Among them the draw was maximum and only the average decided at the end the classification. The fourth place was decided between Ulker, Antibes and Unicaja. Finally the place went to the Turks
1. CSKA MOSCOW   (10-4)
2. BENETTON   (10-4)
3. OLYMPIACOS   (10-4)
4. ULKER   (6-8)
6. ANTIBES   (6-8)
8. IRAKLIS   (3-11)
In group B the classification was followed with less jolts. The two Spaniards Barcelona and Real Madrid dominated. Dominique Wilkins’ Panathinaikos and the surprising Pau Orthez completed this year’s playoffs
1. BARCELONA   (10-4)
2. REAL MADRID   (9-5)
4. PAU ORTHEZ   (8-6)
6. MACCABI   (6-8)
7. CIBONA   (6-8)
8. BENFICA   (2-12)
After the group stage, the playoffs were presented as follows: CSKA MOSCU against PAU ORTHEZ, BENETTON TREVISO against PANATHINAIKOS, BARCELONA against ULKER and REAL MADRID against OLYMPIACOS.
(78-65); (104-89); (83-74)
(70-67); (83-69); (64-65)
(77-105); (96-66)
(68-49); (80-77); (80-65)

This year’s final four was held in Paris. On one side faced an emerging CSKA that had not entered for years between the top four and the PANATHINAIKOS led by the mega star NBA Dominique Wilkins and the Croatian tower Vrankovic on the track and Maljkovic on the bench. In the other semifinal we lived another Spanish derby, a BARCELONA VS REAL MADRID of high flights

The first semifinal was won by Panathinaikos. The Greeks were led by Wilkims who played a magnificent match. For the Russians Karasev and Nwosu tried to give the reply but the truth is that Maljkovic’s dominated the situation at all times and qualified for the first final of their history.

*Yannakis – 0p, 5a.
*Alvertis – 13p, 4r.
*Ekonomou – 8p, 7r.
*Wilkins – 35p, 9r.
*Vrankovic – 8p, 12r.
Korfas – 8p, 2a.
Stavrakopoulos – 7p, 2r.
Vourtzoumis – 2p, 1r.
Pecarski – 0p.
Mirounis – 0p.
CSKA Moscow
*Vetra – 8p, 3a.
*Karasev – 23p, 4r.
*Panov – 7p, 3r.
*Koudelin – 7p, 5r.
*Nwosu – 12p, 12r.
Kissourine – 7p, 3r.
Kornev – 4p, 2r.
Morgunov – 3p, 3r.
Vadeev – 0p.
Kourachev – 0p.
In the Spanish semi-final, reigning champions Real Madrid were defeated by Barcelona. Thanks to the work of the inner pair Arlauckas / Savic managed to stay ahead until the break. But in the second half the blaugranas led by a very complete Karnisovas and a great Godfread finally won and completed the final
FC Barcelona
*Galilea – 0p, 1a.
*Fernández – 6p, 2r.
*Karnisovas – 24p, 6r.
*Jimenez – 8p, 5r.
*Godfread – 22p, 11r.
Montero – 2p, 4a.
Martinez – 10p, 2r.
Diez – 2p.
Dueñas – 0p, 3r.
Bosch – 2p.
Real Madrid
*Antunez – 11p, 3a.
*Santos – 6p, 3r.
*Smith – 8p, 4r.
*Arlauckas – 22p, 7r.
*Savic – 15p, 6r.
Morales – 2p, 4r.
Laso – 2p, 2a.
Ferrer – 0p, 1r.
Abad – 0p.
García – 0p.
Twelve seconds of insanity. With this phrase we can summarize the final between Panathinaïkós and Barcelona. The Greeks, who had been ahead throughout the game, are winning by just one point with 36 seconds to go (67-66). The Barça dies in defense trying to steal a ball that gives the opportunity to get the victory. The seconds pass. Giannakis and Korfas exchange the ball without deciding to manufacture an attacking move. In a last and desperate attempt, Galilea puts the hand and intercepts the ball, which is without owner. There are 4.9 seconds left, and the stopwatch stops inexplicably (perhaps because the Greek team had consumed more than 30 seconds in their last possession). Galilea is right to pass the ball to Montero, who is heading towards the rival basket. Only Vranković reacts and goes down to defend. At all this, the clock still does not move. In his crazy penetration Montero commits steps, passes from braking to the baseline, and when he is ready to leave the tray is with the plug of Vranković, which had traveled the entire track to get in time to give a slap to the ball … but after it bounced off the board. Illegal plug, therefore. Meanwhile, the stopwatch is still stopped at 4.9 seconds. The ball falls to Xavi Fernandez, who passes it to Galilee, located in the line of 6.25. Instead of shooting, «Galis» begins the entry into the basket, at which time the table commissioner realizes the irregularity in the chronometer and starts it again. Wilkins commits a clear foul on the Spanish base. The referees whistle nothing and the match ends between the rejoicing of the Greek players and the angry protests of Aito and his men. Stopwatch in hand, the last 4.9 seconds actually lasted 12: those 4.9 plus the 7 in which the clock did not move.

This final full of irregularities on the part of all the protagonists of the party made forget in certain way the development of the game during the previous 39 minutes. The Panathinaïkós exerted a constant dominion, with long possessions, good selection of shot and a good defense. The Barcelona always was to tow of his rival and only to the end knew to react thanks to a great pressure in all the track. But it was too late, and his fatal fate in the European Cup (the only European title he has not yet won) was sealed again. Panathinaïkós thus became the first Greek team to win the top continental competition.

The first bars of the final were of great equality between Panathinaïkós and Barcelona, more product of the errors of both sets than of their successes. In the 12th minute, with a tie at 14 on the scoreboard, Aíto sat down Galilea and took Salva Díez’s place. Božidar Maljković, aware that Barcelona’s reserve base is not a great shooter, ordered a change to zonal defence 2-1-2 with Vranković (and later Wilkins) in the middle. The Greek zone disconcerted the Barcelonistas enough to fit a partial of 21-9 (35-23, min. 19) that ultimately would be decisive for the fate of the match, as Barça was forced to always tow on the scoreboard and could not recover until the decisive final seconds already commented.

The beginnings of the second half, with Panathinaïkós again defending individually, were hopeful for Barcelona, who took advantage of their first three attacks to approach on the scoreboard (37-32). However, a 6-0 draw for the Athens outfit served to stabilise the differences around ten points. A new zone ordered by Maljković, coinciding with the entrance in track of Salva Díez by Karnišovas, did that the Panathinaïkós recovered its maximum advantage of all the party (49-37, min. 30). Barcelona, lacking in offensive fluidity and without the ability to react, saw how the final escaped him without remission. With six minutes to go, the Athens team’s advantage was already 13 points (55-42), and the Greek fans who packed the stands of Paris-Bercy began to celebrate their team’s victory in advance. Even Maljković seemed so confident in the victory of his team that sat his best man, Vranković – huge in the intimidating aspect, despite not scoring a single point, for several minutes, a moment that Barcelona used to approach thanks to the offensive contribution of Karnišovas. Three free throws from the Lithuanian forward cut the distance to a 57-51 afalta of 3’56», and the nerves made a dent in a Greek team that until then had been seen as a clear dominator of the encounter. However, Barcelona could not complete their comeback, and with 1’59» remaining the victory of Panathinaïkós seemed assured (66-58). Aíto’s men did not lose faith, and thanks to a triple of Karnišovas, a Galilee entry and a «2+1» of the own «Galis» managed to place an incredible 67-66 afalta of 1’03». However, the scoreboard would no longer move in that last minute. Although Wilkins failed under the hoop with 34 seconds to go, the omnipresent Vranković captured the rebound that seemed to be the last possession and victory for his team, and then followed the final facts mentioned above.

Curiously, the decisive plug of Vranković to Montero does not appear reflected in the final act of the match …

*Yannakis – 9p, 4a, 2r.
*Alvertis – 17p, 3r, 2a.
*Ekonomou – 10p, 6r, 5a.
*Wilkins – 16p, 10r, 1a.
*Vrankovic – 0p, 9r, 3t.
Stavrakopoulos – 9p, 3r, 1br.
Vourtzoumis – 2p, 1a.
Korfas – 4p.
FC Barcelona
*Galilea – 10p, 5a, 3br.
*Fernández – 15p, 3br.
*Karnisovas – 23p, 8r, 6a.
*Jimenez – 9p, 2r, 1a.
*Godfread – 9p, 5r, 1a.
Montero – 0p, 2a, 1br.
Diez – 0p, 2a, 1r.
Bosch – 0p, 2r, 1br.
Martinez – 0p, 2r.