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The top final stories

By Niki Bakouli/

You can try all you want (as if you have a reason to make headlines for how incapable you are), but you can never reach to the point of having the last Euroleague’s champions on the same court, for the national cup’s final, and still not be able to respect them. Nor the sport.

After decades of the fanatics being able (because they can) to rull everything (and costing to the teams they declare their love millions of euros -in fines for their behavior which is everything else except what it should be-among many other things), Greece cannot even have a one game final, without the hooligans being in the center of if.

In 2004, it was the last time Greece had a Final Four, but after Lamia’s burning down and a game which lasted… one day (Aris-Olympiacos jump ball was on Sunday and we had the Cup winner around 01.00 Monday, with all the interruptions and the evacuation of the gym), the federation thought of a system with just one final and… with Olympiacos and Panathinaikos could only meet the end of the road…

Just so you know, Greece is also the only country -maybe on earth- where the Police decides how the Cup will end. Till this year, they have rejected three times the Greek’s basketball federation requests for a Final 8, by saying they cannot guarantee the security of so many fans. As if they can secure a sucessfull Final, with 1800 -let’s say- fans in the stands.

Police demanded to check the names of the people who bought the tickets, by providing their IDs and as all the world knows know, they did… a marvellous job. The same goes for the three times they checked on everybody who was going in the arena. Nop, they didn’t find the firecrackers, nor the knives the hooligans brought inside the gym.

Panathinaikos kept its crown, after a really interesting game (78-81), with Roko Leni Ukic playing by far the best game, as a “Green”, thus he was the MVP. Now let’s move on to the other countries and let’s check out some of the most interesting stories of the other national Cups.

Hunting, slipping, playing

It all begun at Drazen Petrovic Basketball Center, in Croatia, on Thursday when Cibona got the Kresimir Cosic Cup (Cedevita Zagreb was… executed, by a jumper from Sandro Nicevic’s hands, with 0.6” to the end of the overtime, which is responsible for the 77-76).

Next thing we knew, Marko Tomas was running to the stands to… hunt a fan who was cursing him on the semi-final and the Final, without taking a break. The incident was few seconds long -with the help of the fans who were standing by-, before the cameras focused on one of the most historic figures of Cibona’s fans, Teta Elza -as she is known-, who stumbled on the stands and hit her head, at the end of a seat but she got up and run to Cibona’s players, to celebrate with them, when she fell again on the court, probably being dizzy from her first hit. Nicevic run to her way to check if everything was all right.

As for Tomas, while he is waiting for his punishment (for unsportsmanlike behaviour), he will have to deal with the lawsuit of his “victim”, Marjan S., who is waiting for the police report to support his legal action. Marko Tomas didn’t comment, but his father Ante said “Marko should have to deal with reacting as a human to a guy who was clearly ordered to mess with his mind, for two straight days”.

Overall, Cedevita complained about the refs (they all were Euroleague’s: Muhvic, Dozai and Radovic and know the club is going to send the tape of the game to Euroleague, to put some pressure on Danko Radic, the president of the Croatia’s Federation and to make him do something).

The dynasty and… the phone call

The Israeli State Cup is 53… years old and Maccabi Tel Aviv is the winner in 40 of these occasions -in the 45 times they reached the Final. On the same day the world got to know that Moran Rot lost money on a fraud (he thought he invested millions of dollars on a real estate broker who got arrested, after he sold the same appartments to different buyers), he wasn’t the best one on the court, but his team did its job at Nokia Arena (76-68).

The same goes for Gal Mekel, who scored 28 points (3/3 3p., 5/9 2p.) for Maccabi Haifa (on… Yogev Ohayon who was on him), 14 in the first quarter, when his team 18 in total (25-18). Mekel, who signed his first professional contract with Maccabi Tel Aviv -but didn’t really play in 2008 and in 2009- was close to the Utah Jazz, past summer, who are going to invite him again to their veteran camp. After the game, Mekel had a phone call from Arik Shivek (Israel’s national team coach)…

While you were… hospitalizing

To those who might thinking right know that Simone Pianigiani gave his answers to all the nusty critics he had the last months, let us tell you that the Italian coach was in the hospital and he was discharged today (Monday).
He had tonsillitis (a consequence of his anxiety, of his pressure, which had to deal with for the frist time, when he was Siena’s coach, to the Italian final series) and he couldn’t be at the gym. He could only talk with his staff over the phone, but now all the time -since he needed to relax.

Anyway, the fact is that Fenerbahce Ulker got back the «Spor Toto Cup», by defeating Galatasaray Medical Park 63-57, at the final. David Andersen was the MVP of the game.

A re-birth and a… baptism

In Milan, Siena got another “BEKO Final 8 di Coppa Italia” (74-77), with Cimberio Varese qualifying to the final for the first time, after 14 years. And they thanked Dusan Sakota for that. A guy who almost lost his life, in late April of 2010, when he received a severe blow to his stomach, which lacerated his duodenum. He had 21p., with 5/7 3pointers, from the bench and that was his best game, after his life-threatening injury.

During the Final 8, we noticed a scout from Boston Celtics who went to Italy to follow Gigi Datome’s progress and we also got to learn that Travis Diener will be the next point guard of the Italian national team, after he got the passport (his wife has italian ancestors).

An explosion and a… take-back

FC Barcelona Regal’s quarter-final game against Real Madrid was the best one we saw, from the long list of games for national Cups. In one word, it was EPIC one. And the “blaugrana” got the 25th Copa del Rey (actually, they got it back, since last year Real was the winner), with Juan Carlos Navarro earning his 6th, after the 85-69 over Valencia Basket Club. Pete Mickael was the MVP Orange, but Xavi Rey was… the man of the hour.

He led Herbalife Gran Canaria to the semi-final, with his coach, Pedro Martinez saying “he had a difficult journey with a serious injury”. You see, last summer, Rey went to the Las Vegas’ Summer League, where he suffered a dislocated right shoulder during his involvement with the Memphis Grizzlies and he had to undergo surgery and he sidelined for three months. Rey was at “Mejor Quinteto de la Copa del Rey” (at the best team), after his explosion which was… responsible for the historical qualify to the semi-final.

A two day final!

Greeks and Serbians are brothers. And they proved it one more time, since they were the only countries which managed to have the Police as the star of their Cup’s finals.

Before Sunday’s game, which concluded on Monday, the most important info was the return of Novica Velickovic to the court, with his first two games, as a Mega Vizura’s player, after the surgery he had (on the knee), in June. By the way, his ex teammate, Dejan Milojevic is now his coach!

Now back to the Korac Cup final, 14 minutes to the end, the police interrupted the game of Partizan vs. Red Star, for the obvious reasons and the two teams met again on Monday, without their… let’s say fans. There were only 150 people in the gym, with their names being on Police’s list and each club was able to have 31 people (with coaches, players and officials included).

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