The Olimpia basketball club was born in 1936 under the sign of winning. The first season when the team used Olimpia as its name was a success. In reality, hi story is much more confused and complicated than that. The team was born because of a Count Borletti’s idea. He considered the team some kind of afterwork passtime. According to that era reconstruction, the team was founded in 1930 ma years later the historical president Adolfo Bogoncelli decided by himself that the correct date of birth was 1936. So date of birth and date of first title are the same! Enrico Castelli was the Captain, Giannino Valli the coach. The following season, Sergio Paganella came aboard. He was one of the first great center of Italian basketball.
Borletti won four consecutive “scudetti”, Ginnastica Triestina stooped its march in the 1939/40 season and one year later with a renovated team and after Borletti’s dead, the team became a bad one and confined in the bottom of the standing. It came back but those were the war years, in 1943 just three games were played. After the conflict the team was not the same anymore and also the legendary Giannino Valli was replaced as coach.
In the meantime the Olimpia we know about today was about to reborn. Adolfo Bogoncelli, born in Treviso but coming from Trieste, fall in love with basketball in Modena and when he founded a team in Milano using Action Party money, he called it Triestina. After the war no money were still coming fron the Party and the team was moved to Como, looking for money. Borletti was relegated in the second division at the time. Enter Bogoncelli: he was a visionary, he merged his team with Borletti and tje product was the team we can safely call Olimpia. Borletti became the main sponsor, Bogoncelli was the president. In that capacity in 1949 he bought from Venice, the scorer Sergio Stefanini, who had already won two italian titles and kept the streak alive in Milano. To coach the team was called Cesare Rubini. Bogoncelli and Rubini were going to form the first great president-coach couple in the history of Italian basketball.
Bogoncelli was a visionary, a genius. He invented sponsorships first with Borletti then with the historical Simmenthal brand, he created a market for players, he spread basketball everywhere in Italy bringing the Harlem Globetrotters during the years when that team was the most famous and also the best in the world because of the afro-american players – basically banned from the NBA – including the phenomenal Wilt Chamberlain. Bogoncelli invented Rubini as a player-coach and under his wing was created also the first coach-assistant coach great duo in Italian basketball with Rubini and Sandro Gamba. Rubini was the master motivator, a charismatic coach. Gamba was the basketball scientist.
In 1966 Bogoncelli brought in Milano as a foreigner for the Cup competition, the college player of the year, Bill Bradley, who had moved to Oxford postponing his NBA debut by two years. The last great move of his extraordinary managing career was the signing of Dam Peterson as head coach after hand-picking Toni Cappellari as a general manager after Rubini left. He basically created another great duo: Cappellari-Peterson.
Bogoncelli left basketball and Olimpia opening the door to the Gabetti family in 1980. Up to then, Olimpia had won 19 titles, the last 15 under his magic wing.
“Il Principe”, The Prince Cesare Rubini, a triestino, came to Milano following his mentor Adolfo Bogoncelli becoming player and coach for Olimpia. A terrific physical specimen, Rubini has been one of the greatest Italian sportsmen of All-Time. While he was collecting basketball championships, he was obtaining the same results in waterpolo. In 1947 Rubini was the silver medal at the basketball European championship in Geneva and still in 1948 he won the gold medal at the London Olympics in waterpolo. Diabolically capable to play two sports at the same time, he was named into the Hall of Fame of both (in the 1952 Olympics he won another medal, leading the team he captained to the bronze).
Still, Olimpia is the club, even more than the National team, identifying his sports history. In Milano, he won as a player and coach five championships including five in a row
During the Rubini years, the myth of the “red Shoes” was born: he found out shoes of that color in America and he imported them to Italy. The team he coached was phenomenal: he had Gianfranco Pieri who he asked to trade for after Pieri scored 34 points against Milano playing for Trieste, he also had Sandro Riminucci, who scored 77 points ina game once, he had Ricky Pagani, Nane Vianello, Poalo Vittori and finally Massimo Masini, Renzo Bariviera, Giulio Iellini, Pino Brumatti in the 70′s when – it happened in 1973 – he left the bench to become Olimpia’s general manager completing his historical career, the one leading him to the National team in the end, side by side with his trusted top lieutenant Sandro Gamba. The duo won the European gold in 1983.
Seven championships in 10 years. That’s Olimpia’s pace during the Cesare Rubini and Adolfo Bogoncelli’s era. But what was starting to miss was a great international titles, during the years where Inter and Milan were dominating the international soccer scene. In 1964, Olimpia made it to the Champions Cup semifinal, losing to the legendary Real Madrid team because of points differential (in Milano, Olimpia was able to win): that was the best result accomplished up to that point. In the 1965 summer, the American player was Skip Thoren, a center from Illinois who later was going to play in the ABA (in 1969 he made the All-Star team) in Minnesota and Miami. Still that year’s team will be forever remembered as Bill Brdaley’s one. He arrived in Milano under special circumstances. Player of the year in Princeton (he led the team to the NCAA final four), the Missouri-born, son of a Crystal City banker, Bradley considered basketball a pleasing early experience of a more interesting life. His big dream wasn’t to play in the NBA, but to beacome U.S. President (he stopped as a candidate for the Democratic Party in the primary, but Al Gore got the nomination). For 18 years he was New Jersey Senator. To get to that point, he had to study well and be prepared: after graduating from Princeton, he decided to study in England the next two years. In Olimpia had the marvelous idea to offer him the opportunity to play only in European compeitition for one season. Bradley lived in England, but then he hopped onto a plane to reach Milano and play in the Champions Cup.
In terms of talent and basketball IQ he was out of this World. Bradley, after leaving Milano and Europe, was going to become an Hall of Famer, winning two NBA championships in New York, where he spent his entire professional career. He also played in three NBA Finals. His number 24 jersey has been retired by the Knicks. The Italian season by Bradley, in spite of being limited to a few games, was memorable. Anecdotes are countless. Bradley could practice just a little and get away with it. They say he could walk down Corso Buenos Aires and practice his peripheral vision, reading all the price tags in the shops without turning his eyes.
In the preliminary group, Olimpia surpassed Giessen and Hapeol Tel-Aviv, then in the second round a terrific Belgian named Steveniers scored 44 points for Racing Malines, a powerhouse at that time, making Bradley look almost bad with his… 43. On the road, Olimpia lost also in Prague and Madrid, but it was able to correct the losses at home and advance. The team conquered the Final Four by beating Real Madrid 93-76 at Palalido: Nane Vianello scored 40 points, Bill Bradley added 27. The great Final Four experiment started in Palalido where Slavia Prague met AEK Athens while in Bologna Olimpia met the scary CSKA Moscow who won the trophy in 1961 and 1963. Milano won the game convincigly 68-57, Massimo Masini had 15 points and Bradley had 20. So on April fool’s day in Bologna, Olimpia met Slavia Prague, a team led by Jiri Zidek, whose son was going to win the NCAA title at UCLA and then played in the NBA and in Europe. Olimpia won 77-72 with a great team game: Vianello scored 21 points, Thoren also scored 21, Bradley added 14 and Riminucci 10. No Italian team had won the cup before.
The great Simmenthal lost Bill Bradley, replaced by Red Robbins, reached the Champions Cup final again in 1967 but lost, on the road, against Real Madrid. Still, the great era kept going in Italy, with a season marred only by a couple of losses and the “scudetto” won beating out the usual suspects of Varese and All’Onestà, the second Milano team. It was the end of an era when Simmenthal decided to rebuild around quality youngsters like Iellini, Brumatti, even Ferracini and some old warrior like Riminucci, Captain Pieri, Massimo Masini. Simmentahl new version in 1971, 1972 and again in 1973 finished the season tied for first with Ignis Varese. It lost the first tie-break game in Roma, won the second, won the Cup of the Cups in 71 and 71, before losing again the tie-break game in 1973 when it didn’t win anything. It was the team well represented by the great fighter Arthur Kenney, a role-player with no fear, one of the players capable to really show what an Olimpia player should be, especially in term of spirit. In 2013 his number 18 would’ve been retired, not just because Kenney was a great player and even better person but because he was the living example of how an Olimpia player is supposed to behave and play.
In 1973, on August the 2nd, Adolfo Bogoncelli lost the Simmenthal brand as main sponsor, Cesare Rubini left the bench and Sandro Gamba followed out the door. Innocenti was the team’s new name, Pippi Faina, an Olimpia man at the heart, was named head coach, the blue jersey are against the tradition but in spite of all of that and the signing of Brosterohous as an American, Olimpia finished in second place losing three games total during the all season. In 1976, when Cinzano became the sponsor du jour and the team used to play with two-color shorts, Olimpia won the Cup os the Cups again and still found a way to be relegated in the second division. From that relegations, emerged again one year later, with Pippo Faina in redeem mode. Before leaving the team, he was the one bringing in Italy the great Mike D’Antoni, the former Marshall University star in West Virginia, uncapable to find his nichè in the NBA (ad in the Aba as well). The new coach was an Americn named Dan Peterson.
Dan Peterson fron Evanston, Illinois, close to Chicago, wasn’t an American coach of much success in his country. He did well as an assistant coach at Michigan State, he was appreciated as a Delaware coach but was still waiting for a serious chance when used all his courage to accept the job as the Chile National Team coach, a very demanding and challenging job. He was coaching Chile when Virtus Bologna chose as its next coach Rollie Massimino, an up and coming coach in the States. But Massimino at the eleventh hour received an offer he couldn’t refuse to coach Villanova – where he was going to win the NCAA Championship in 1985 – leaving Virtus in deep trouble. The American agent Richard Kaner worked on a solution and through his good friend Chuck Daly – the first Dream Team coach – got to Peterson in that period when basically all the coaches are already set for the future. Peterson was free to leave Chile and accepted Gianluigi Porelli’s proposal on Virtus behalf. Dan Peterson Italian adventure was set to start.
In Bologna he won the championship, he establieshed himself as a coach, learned how to speak Italian and became the media darling. Bologna soon became like a fishbowl for him. And when he was called by Milano, with more tradition than Bologna but a less promising future, he signed with no hesitations and no regrets. “To me, as an American, Milano looked like New York”.
The rest is history: the so-called “Banda Bassotti” (every player was shorter than the opponent) made it to the Finals, losing to Virtus nonetheless, filling the seats in the big San Siro’s arena, next to the stadium. The team was built around Mike D’Antoni’s genius, promoting all the best players from the youth teams, like the Boselli twins, Francesco Anchisi and Vittorio Gallinari. The new era was born.
Olimpia made it to the finals in 1979, to the semifinals in 1980 and in 1981 again when he lost to Cantù when Antonello Riva exploded on the national scene and in spite of losing CJ Kupec and Mike Sylvester. Barely missing the opportunity to sign Kevin McHale (he came to Milano but when he was about to sign, left to go back to the Boston Celtics), Olimpia signed John Gianelli and so the team was almost ready to win. When the Gabetti family bought the team from Adolfo Bogocelli, the missing piece joined for the ride.
The first title in the Peterson era arrived in 1982, not coincidentally during the first season with Dino Meneghin playing for Olimpia. Born in Alano di Piave but raised in Varese, Meneghin was an early-age phenomenon when he quitted as a shot-putter to become the best center in the Italian basketball history. In Varese he debutted in the top league very early and he started winning immediately, epitomizing a dynasty along players like Bob Morse, Aldo Ossola, Ivan Bisson. The Varese team reaching 10 consecutive European finals, winning five of them, was his team. So Meneghin became also a traditional enemy for Olimpia, basically THE enemy.
But Varese era finished in the summer of 1981 when the owner GUido Borghi left the club determining the trade of Dino Meneghin. Gianmario Gabetti, fresh on the job of Olimpia’s new owner, decided it was mandatory for him to get Meneghin. And so the trade was consummated and Meneghin left a team to join the enemy, although with no Meneghin and no more Morse (he went to Antibes) Varese became just another team in terms of aspirations. But Olimpia changed its outlook: with Meneghin starting at center (his first season in Milano was initially marred by a knee injury), it had a powerful team with Vittorio Ferracini or Vittorio Gallinari playing the small forward position, John Gianelli as a power forward and two shooters like Franco Boselli and Roberto Premier, acquired from Gorizia. Mike D’Antoni as a point-man played basically until he could with the young Marco Lamperti ready to replace him when nothing else was possible.
The beginning was difficult: Olimpia lost to Rieti at Home, at the end of November its was destroyed in Pesaro 110-65, humiliated by Dragn Kicanovic. Meneghin made his debut on December 6, in Rieti and it was another big loss. Olimpia went to Varese, the very first game in Varese as an enemy for Meneghin, and it was another loss. Still, the team won 12 of the last 13 games in the regular season, had a difficult playoff first-round series against Brescia winning Game 3 only in the closing minutes. The semifinals was against Torino. It won Game 1 on the road (Framco Boselli scored 20) but just by one in Game 2. The final was against the Scavolini team led by former player Mike Sylvester. Billy, that’s the sponsor name, played a terrific Game 1 in Pesaro winning 89-86 and then saved the day and the championship in Game 2. It was tje championship number 20, the second star. The decisive play was the last one, a memorable block by Gianelli on a Sylvester attempt to win the game. It was an historical game: coach Petar Skansi for Scavolini had Kicanovic coming off the bench, inexplicably. Gianelli scored 39 points in two games, becoming one of the greatest Americanns in Olimpia’s history: he was white, he wasn’t spectacularm he was solid, with shooting skills and great smartness.
The championship signaled the start of a new era. The following season Olimpia reacjed the final in the Champions Cup only to lose to Cantù by one point in Grenoble (Boselli had the winning shot, a makeable mid-range jump shot that he missed) and lost also the league finals against Roma, a team led by an immensely talented point-man named Larry Wright. In 1984 it was Knorr Bologna’s turn to beat Olimpia, although the disqualification of Dino Meneghin before the decisive Game is still a nightmare per every fan.
The second-place curse stopped in 1985, the season when the big building in San Siro crashed under the weight of a huge snowing storm. Olimpia began the season with Russ Schoene and Wally Walker as Americans. The former, a young forward, struggled in the beginning, while the latter was more experienced and with a solid reputation. But when the team was about to sign incredibly the great Joe Barry Carroll, coach Dan Peterson had a surprising idea: he realeased Walker and kept Schoene, moving him to the small forward position and implementing a two-heade center thanks to Carroll and Meneghin. Schoene became a huge part of the team, he was the best during the Korac Cup final. Carroll came to Milano because of a contractual dispute with his NBA team. the Golden State Warriors. A former NBA draft first pick, he had fantastic skills, size, talent and not much aggressiveness. In the States they called him Joe Barely Care… But in Milano he found the right atmosphere, had a terrific season, lead Olimpia to the championship unbeaten in the playoff and went back to the NBA. Schoene instead stayed in Milano and won the championship again. In 1985 Pesaro was beaten in the finals, in 1986 it was CAserta’s turn, the young Caserta team with Nando Gentile and a terrific shooter named Oscar Schmidt. After two staright championships, three under coach Peterson, it was time to win in Europe again.
With a roster gradually getting older, the general idea was to start the training camp late to increase the lenght of the off-season and save energy for the last segment of any season although it was a risky move early. There was another additional advantage: the chance to pick the American players at the last minute, increasing the opportunity to sign big players and still creating no disfunction whatsoever (at that time you could sign only two Americans, while Mike D’Antoni was playing as an Italian). At the eve of the season start, in 1986 Olimpia signed the first-round pick of the Los Angeles Lakers, the forward from Notre Dame, Kenny Barlow but more than that it was Bob McAdoo, the unexpected addition. “We got a lot of criticism for those choices – coach Dan Peterson recalls – Barlow was coming off Notre Dame, he had a bad ankle, he was recovering from a tragic car accident and then he started the season very slowly. Inspired by the press, the people was against him, on top of everything. We won everything that year but the criticism had a lasting impact. Barlow at the end of the season was not re-signed, he went to Maccabi and made it to the final again. Almost winning it. McAdoo? I had been trying to sign him for years”.
They called him DooDoo in the States: a guy from Greensboro, North Carolina, a great body and golden hands, he was 2.05 and played like he was from another planet, an in-between, a little bit of a center, a little bit of a power forward. He spent one year in an Indiana junior college to set his grades straight, then he moved to North Carolina to be coached by legendary Dean Smith. He stayed one year, then he was the number 2 pick in the NBA draft, selected by Buffalo. The first segment of his NBA career was marked by great scoring sprees, in Buffalo and eventually with the New York Knicks and bad team results. Three times he was the league leading scorer, in 1975 he was named Mvp. But his teams never won anything. The second part of his career took place when he went to the Los Angeles Lakers, during the Pat Riley’s Showtime years. He played along Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Riley made him his perfect sixth man, a great scorer off the bench. He won two championships in 1982 and 1985. He then moved to Philadelphia but he was at the end as an NBA player. And Milano called.
McAdoo was welcomed among a little bit of skepticism: was he motivated to play in Italy? Was he in good enough shape? Could he adjust his playing style to the one implemented in Milano like he did with the Lakers? McAdoo answer was great. With his help, Olimpia won two championships in three years and two European cups also. In 1986/87 he was coached by Dan Peterson, the by Franco Casalini. He played alongside Kenny Barlow once, then Rickey Brown. He arrived to finish his career in Italy but he stayed a lot and played also in Forlì, briefly in Fabriano and then he was back to the States to become a coach with the Miami Heat under Pat Riley.
The 1986/87 team won the championship for the third consecutive time beating Caserta in the finals, like it did in 1986. Olimpia won also the Italy Cup (95-93 to Pesaro in the final, McAdoo scored 29) but its success level in Italy was up for discussion anymore. What’s expected was an international win. In 1985 Olimpia won the Korac Cup but the organization aspired to much more, The Champions Cup, basically the Euroleague, was an incredibly difficult competition: you could play only by winning your own league the season before. Not many teams participated and every game was a battle. Further problem: to play in the final group, open to six teams only, you had to win the preliminary phase, and the opponents were already strong. Olimpia had to beat Aris Thessaloniki, the best Greek team of that era, with the iconic players of that generation, Nick Galis and Panagiotis Yannakis (in 1987 they led their National Team to an historic european championship). The first leg of the serie in Greec was a surprising blow-out. Inside a terrible atmosphere, Aris won 98-67, with Galis scoring 44. And still a catastrophic game became the cornerstone of a team heroism to be remembered. One week later, on November 6, in the Palatrussardi of Lampugnano, Olimpia won by 34. Roberto Premier scored 20 points, Nick Galis was held to 16. It was a night to remember. Olimpia was up by 14 at halftime and touched the 31-point margin with 5 minutes to go. It’s one of the most famous game in the history of Italian basketball and of the Olimpia. But the remaining bgames were not a cakewalk in no way. The then-called Tracer won a terrific game in Tel-Aviv 97-79 (Premier had 31 points) but lost in Milano and to get to the final had to wait the last game against the croats from Zara. A game to be played in nearby Pavia.
The European title was won in Switzerland, in Lausanne, beating Maccabi Tel-Aviv in the final act. The game was played in an hockey building but it was a pure fight. The leading scorer was Premier with 23 points, an amazing number for a low-scoring game. With one minute to go and the score tied at 69, Mike D’Antoni scored and then Dino Meneghin – in an epic picture – was hit by a cramp attack and still he remained on the court, in pain and on a single leg. Maccabi had the last shot: the team’s best shooter, Doron Jamchy, took it and missed. Badly. 21 years later, Olimpia was again European Champion. McAdoo scored 21 points, the young gun Kenny Barlow had 18. The team was exceptional, with also Franco Boselli, Fausto Bargna, a young kid named Ricky Pittis and Vittorio Gallinari. An Pittis himself was decisive in leading the team to the Italin championship. Up 2-0 in the serie against Caserta, Milano had no more energy in Game 3 when it played host to a team lead by Oscar Schmidt. After 15 minutes, Olimpia was down by 20 and Peterson looking for freshness sent to the court Pittis. He made two threes and two dunks. The game was under control again and won in the second half.
The last year of Dan Peterson coaching the team was also the best. Olimpia completed the legendary Grand Slam, a feat that only Virtus Bologna in 2001 was capable to do in Italy. At the end of the season, Peterson left the bench, his trusted assistant Franco Casalini was promoted and his first task was to win the Intercontinetal Cup in Milano.
After completing the Grand Slam, Olimpia had to renew its roster to get younger and because coach Dan Peterson, at just 51, decided to retire (he was going to change his mind… 25 years later). The club traded for Piero Montecchi from Reggio Emilia giving up Franco Boselli, and for Massimiliano Aldi from Livorno (Vittorio Gallinari was moved to Pavia) and finally made the decision to give more playing time to Ricky Pittis and also decided to replace the young and athletic Kenny Barlow with Rickey Brown, a former NBA center already Italy-proved because he had played in Brescia before. Another issue was to play during the preseason the Intercontinental Cup in Milano. Olimpia won the cup and made his trophy case richer and richer. But to honor the competition it had to start getting ready earlier tha usual. And in some ways it had to pay price: in the Italy Cup, Milano was eliminated in the second round by Cantù; in the Italian legaue it finished the season a little fatigued after a long season, including the historical Milwaukee Open where it played as the first European team to be invited in the States to compete officially against an NBA team (the Milwaukee Bucks won the tournament). And that’s why against the younger Scavolini Pesaro coached by archrival Valerio Bianchini Olimpia lost 3-1 closing the streak of consecutive titles at three.
Bust the 1987/88 season was an historical one, anyway because Olimpia won its second European title in a row winning the Final Four in Gent. It marked the first time the title was awarded with the Final Four format. It was a great season for Franco Casalini, an authentic Olimpia product, a young guy climbing the ladder from the youth teams up to the first team, as the trusted Dan Peterson assistant. Casalini turned down numerous offers to coach other teams to stay aboard. When Peterson retired, he was his hand-picked successor. When he left Milano, he coached in Forlì and Roma, eventually returned to Olimpia but as a matter of fact he’s going to be forever linked to that team, the one he recounted in a book “The team of our lives”.
Just like the season before, in 1988 the Champions Cup started on a bad note: in Cologne, Olimpia was beaten badly by 24 points, giving up 102 and the only positive note was Piero Montecchi scoring 26 coming off the bench to spell the legendary Mike D’Antoni. It wasn’t a really dangerous loss because it took place early and there was a lot of time to recover. In Tel Aviv, Olimpia won by scoring 99 points. McAdoo and Brown had 68 points combined. When Olimpia went to the infamous Thessaloniki arena, Nick Galis scored 50! But qualifying for the Final Four wasn’t a problem at all. In Gent. Olimpia was the defending champion, a solid, experienced, tough team. In the semifinal against Aris, McAdoo scored 39 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. The team got away in the second half, Brown had 28 and the final score was 87-82. The final was against the same opponent: Maccabi Tel Aviv, with the old friend Kenny Barlow. It was Barlow to lead Maccabi to a furious rally that came up short because a couple of big plays by the young guns Pittis and Aldi (15 points combined). Olimpia won 90-84.
The Champions Cup triumph was the only one of the season for Olimpia. In the Italian league playoff, Tracers was beaten by Scavolini Pesaro, coached by Bianchini, with Darwin Cook leading the way, Darren Daye and three big italian players, Ario Costa, Walter Magnifico and Andrea Gracis. In a best of five series, Scavolini won 3-1 inspiring a great rivalry that one year later became even more bloody when Olimpia eliminated Pesaro in the semifinal, winning one of two games because a judge decision, thanks to a coin hitting Dino Meneghin and pushing him to leave the floor for good in the first half.
The 2013/14 season is the one during which the Olimpia’s project finally explodes. The team has been rebuilt over the summer with the general idea of having a warrior mentality, a lot of hunger. Luca Banchi is the new coach, coming from Grosseto, 48, a natural born winner. David Moss, Samardo Samuels, Curtis Jerrells and then Gani Lawal and Daniel Hackett are among the top acquisitions. Keith Langford has the best season of his career (Euroleague top scorer, All-Euroleague first-team, Italian league playoffs leading scorer). Alessandro Gentile – named the best Under 22 player in Seria A – explodes.
Olimpia wins 21 consecutive games in the league, all the home regular season games and all the games in the second half of the season. But the team has also a great Euroleague outing. It makes it to the Top 16, where it wins 10 games out of 14, eight in a row, destroying perennial contenders like Olympiacos (twice), Panathinaikos, Fenerbahce (twice) and Barcelona. People go crazy: all the attendance records and gate receipts are devastated. 11 times the Mediolanum Forum is sold out.
In Euroleague, the great ride comes to a stop in the quarterfinals, 1-3 against Maccabi who eventually won the championship, playing the entire series with no Gentile (injured) and Keith Langford just recovered after another tough injury. A big game 1 is ruined in the last 27 seconds. Maccabi advances. But the message is loud and clear: Red Shoes Are Back. In the Italian playoffs the pressure is sky-high but with a great toughness and mental strength, all the obstacles are removed: Pistoia is eliminated 3-2, Sassari 4-2 by winning three road games with Gentile scoring at least 20 points for three consecutive games, Siena is beaten 4-3 coming back from 2-3. Curtis Jerrells’ big basket at the buzzer in Game 6 is crucial while Alessandro Gentile, the youngest captain in Olimpia’s history, is the Finals’ Mvp. After 18 years the Italian title is back where it belongs. In the great city of Milano.
The following year is very unconsistent: the team is good enough to win at one point 20 straight Italian League game but shows a disturbing tendency of losing the decisive games. It lost the Supercup final in Sassari against the home team then the Italy Cup and after a nice but not great Euroleague season was eliminated in the semifinal of the Italian League once more by Sassari. After trailing 3-1, Olimpia ties the series but lose game 7 at home. The disappointment sparks the birth of a new cycle. The head coach Luca Banchi leaves the team and so happens with Daniel Hackett, David Moss and Samardo Samuels. Livio Proli takes the club under his wing, appoints Jasmin Repesa as the new coach and the team is centered around Alessandro Gentile.