By Aris Barkas/ email@example.com
Italians call Bologna “Basket city” but for many years the names of Virtus and Fortitudo were absent from European basketball.
That changed this year. Virtus Bologna is back with a vengeance in the Basketball Champions League, they have started the season with a 3-0 record and after their playing in their first game in front of 5.000 home fans, some of them followed them in Slovenia for the road game against Petrol Olimpija.
The game ended up being a 91-62 triumph for the Italians and the proud banner of Virtus Bologna is once more hailed in the old continent. “It’s an amazing feeling”, said Pietro Aradori, who knows what the legacy of his club means in Italy and also in Europe.
The 29-year-old guard was just a bοy during the heydays of Virtus when Ettore Messina was coaching and players like Manu Ginobili were part of the roster. Still, he can feel the legacy of the club and also the passion of the fans. “When we play on the road all our fans from “la curva” try to do everything possible to come everywhere to support us in every game”, he explains. “That’s why we feel like playing at home even if we are not in Bologna”.
This passion is revived with the presence of Virtus Bologna in a European competition. “This is a very important season for the club and for all the fans in Bologna”, said Aradori. “Our return to Europe is fundamental for the club because we are back after the early years of this century when Virtus was one of the most important powerhouses in Europe and in the history of the sport”.
And Aradori knows what he speaks about. He demonstrates his passion on the court and that makes him a fan favorite and not only in Italy. Aradori played also in Turkey and in Spain with Estudiantes and he is still beloved by the Estudiantes fans, who call themselves “Demencia”.
Aradori laughed with joy when he was asked to make a comparison between Spanish and Italian passion: “I am very glad to be one of the fan favorites in Madrid. I think that people like me not only because of my skills, or because of what I do on the court, but also because I am always myself in every situation. That’s how I live my life, I have a nice word for anything and try to play down any negative moment. Both the “Demencia” and our “tifosi Bianconeri” are two groups that deeply love their teams and their support is amazing”.
It remains to be seen where this passion will lead Virtus Bologna in this season’s Basketball Champions League.