The first semi-final was a duel to the death between the two Italian rivals. It took extra time to get to know the champions. In a match that could and deserved to win either of the two the balance was finally opted for the side of the Fortitudo Bologna. The Bolognese were led by Argentina’s Delfino, well seconded by Vujanic, Smodis and Mottola. Thornton, Andersen and Stefanov stood out in the Montepaschi, who lost their second semi-final in a row.
In a final that never existed, Tel Aviv’s Maccabi have been proclaimed Euroleague champions to overwhelm Skipper Bologna by 118-74 in a record match. In the heat of their own home crowd, the Israeli outfit scored the highest score and tripled the heaviest victory in the history of the Euroleague finals, and so impressively won their fourth top continental competition title. The Maccabi was clearly superior to a very weak Skipper, who was not up to the occasion, also facing a magnificent Israeli team, which embroidered him for a victory as overwhelming as humiliating for his opponent.
In the moment of truth, the responsibility of the grand final was with the Italian team and instead motivated the Israelis greatly. It all went well for Maccabi. The shots went in, the defence worked, the atmosphere was propitious for the occasion and the stars responded with success and spectacular moves. The geniuses of Šarūnas Jasikevičius (18 points and 5 assists in 18 minutes), the continuous scoring power of Anthony Parker (21 points) and the sudden appearance of David Bluthenthal (20) and Tal Burstein (17) were the main weapons of Maccabi in his comfortable triumph, although really the whole team responded to a very high level.
Although Smodiš opened the scoring with a tray (the first and only time Skipper took the lead), the Maccabi came out in a tromba, with a Jasikevičius especially involved in the match and author of his team’s first two trebles, which threw the hosts and unleashed the euphoria of the Maccabi fans. Such was the intensity of the Lithuanian that within five minutes he had committed three personal fouls and had to go to the bench. However, Maccabi, far from being afraid, continued to fire the advantages on the scoreboard because the Skipper was not right for the hoop and showed that defense is not his thing. A 19-2 partisan put Maccabi (19-5) in a completely upside-down position.
The Italians only looked at each other as if wondering what was going on, without being able to stop the yellow gale. At the end of the first quarter Maccabi had half a title in his pocket (31-13) and his morale grew like foam, allowing his players to try almost anything, with the confidence that comes from knowing that most of the balls ended up in the basket of the rival. As a fact, suffice it to say that Bluthenthal nailed a triple in the last second of the first quarter against the ineffectiveness of Skipper’s defense, which did nothing to prevent it, bearing in mind that the Israelis took off the wing and that Bluthenthal received only to score. In this first quarter, the Skipper signed a nefarious 2/13 field shots.
In the first play of the second quarter, Nikola Vujčić raised the difference to 20 points (33-13). The final agonized. Either Skipper Bologna reacted quickly, or it would become a 30-minute walk from Maccabi Tel Aviv to the title. The Italian team resorted to an area to try to cut the bleeding points he was suffering, especially by Bluthenthal and Parker, before the delirium of the stands, which was living a happy ending and without any shock. Without being able to resort to a numantine defense, for his lack of attitude and aptitude, the only point of support of the Italian team was his attack, but the shots did not enter and the rents of Maccabi were stabilized in the twenty points, which gave him a great tranquility and confidence. At half-time, the score was clear: 55-30. There was no match, there was no end and the worst thing is that in the faces of the Skipper players there was not anger, but conformism.
In the continuation, more of the same. The match did not exist, the final was a caricature and Maccabi was passing over a Skipper who only had the resource of triple throws from eight meters. The Euroleague already had a champion and only 20 minutes of mere formality were left to crown the Israelis as the best European team of the year. Baston, Jasikevičius and Parker continued to delight the fans and Skipper remained groggy, watching the home advantage soar to 29 points (64-35). Even the Israeli fans got tired of celebrating the title in advance. Vujanić, Möttölä and the Bolognese bench men led a timid reaction from Skipper, who managed a 0-10 split to at least prevent further humiliation from their opponent. It was just a mirage, as Maccabi rebounded to avoid scares, stretching the lead again to 29 points at the end of the third quarter (80-51). The Italians only wished that the ordeal to which they were being subjected ended as soon as possible.
The display of yellow and martyrdom of Skipper Bologna continued in the last quarter, which exceeded 40 points thanks to a very high pace of scoring the Maccabees and the continuous inaccuracies of the Bolognese. With their arms completely lowered, the Italians tried to withstand the passing of the minutes until they reached the 118-74 final, 44 points of difference that speak for themselves.