European Champions Back to Back

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.

  • aoc
  • aon
  • bmw
  • fossil
  • luxottica
  • SAP
  • umana