The Drazen and Oscar Show
Veteran sportswriter and Euroleague.net collaborator Vladimir Stankovic has been following the best basketball on the continent longer than almost anyone journalist, writing for decades about the sport in major publications in both Serbia and Spain. For the new 2010-11 season, he offers a blog that honors the history of European basketball - even while history keeps being made!
This week, my friend and colleague Javi Gancedo published in this very same website an excellent story about the European Cup final of 1969. It was the longest final ever to decide a European champion, with two overtimes, played by CSKA Moscow and Real Madrid in Barcelona. My story today is about another European final, also with an overtime, but more focused on the amazing scoring skills of two men: Drazen Petrovic and Oscar Schmidt. That was the Cup Winners Cup final between Real Madrid and Snaidero Caserta on March 14, 1989, played at Peace and Friendship Stadium in Piraeus, Greece, before 12,000 fans. The referees were the Refereeing Chief of the Euroleague since its inception, Costas Rigas of Greece, and Zdrtavko Kurilic of Yugoslavia. The game ended with Real Madrid winning 117-113 after regulation time had finished 102-102. The first-half score was 60-57. Petrovic finished the game with 62 points and Schmidt with 44. Between the two of them they had scored 106 points!
Three duels between them
That was the one and only season that Drazen Petrovic played for Real Madrid. He was signed in the summer of 1988 from Cibona Zagreb, with whom he had won two Euroleague titles, in 1985 (against Real Madrid, in Athens) and 1986 (against Zalgiris, in Budapest). In every game of the competition, Petrovic proved to be a scorer who seemed to have no limits. In the first eliminatory round, against humble BC Rangers of Scotland, he scored 21 and 19 points. In the quarterfinals group he scored 28 and 31 points against Pitch Cholet of France, against Hapoel Galil Elyon of Israel he hit 39 and 7 (the latter, because he didn't need to score anymore in the second game, as Real Madrid won at home by 100-81). In the two duels against his future rival in the final, Snaidero Caserta, he led Real Madrid to two victories (109-92 in Madrid, 94-95 in Caserta). Petrovic blasted 43 and 31 points respectively while his great rival, Schmidt, had 36 and 37. Their head-to-head battle was a draw at that point even though Drazen had scored one more point, 74 against Oscar's 73. Before the final game, the one that would break that balance, Drazen had to face his former team, Cibona, and his brother Aleksandar. Drazen Petrovic played in his arena, in front of his fans and against his former teammates at 100 percent. Real Madrid won by 91-92 with 43 points by Petrovic while his brother, Aca, finished with 10. In Madrid, Real Madrid won by 119-97 and Drazen raised his bar to 47 points, but that was only warm-up for him for the great title game in Athens. Oscar Schmidt and Caserta eliminated the Zalgiris of legendary Arvydas Sabonis in the semifinal. By the way, what a foursome in those semis!
In theory, Real Madrid had bigger chances: they had won both games against Caserta in the quarterfinals group and got to the title game as favorite, but the Italian team was also really strong. Apart from the Brazilian genius Schmidt, the team coached by Franco Marcheleti had two of Italian basketball's biggest young talents, Fernando Gentile and Vincenzo Esposito, Bulgarian big man Georgi Glushkov (who had made history by becoming the first European to play in the NBA with the Phoenix Suns in 1985), a solid rebound man in Sandro dell' Agnelo as well, but the bench was not that deep.
One minute of rest
In the title game, Real Madrid head coach Lolo Sainz used eight players, but guard Jose Luis Llorente only played for 4 minutes. The other seven players shared the minutes this way: Petrovic 45 (62 points), Jose Chechu Biriukov 41 (20), Johnny Rogers 21 (14), Antonio Martin 22 (2), Fernando Martin 40 (11), Fernando Romay 23 (4) and Pep Cargol 29 (4).
On the other side, the situation was similar: Oscar Schmidt 44 minutes and 44 points, Georgi Glushkov 43 (13), Nando Genteile 42 (34), Sandro dell Agnelo 42 (18), Vincenzo Esposito 19 (2), Franco Boselli 15 (2), Fulvio Polselo 12 (no points), Massimilano Rizzo 5 (no points), Giuseppe Vitielo 2 (no points) y Giacomantonio Tufano 1 minuto (no points).
The game was an offensive festival. As mentioned, the teams combined for 117 points (60-57) by halftime. Petrovic and Schmidt were scoring from every position and in every possible manner. Petrovic, the hero of the game, could have also become the tragic figure of the duel because with 8 seconds remaining and a 102-102 tie, he turned the ball over on Real Madrid's last offensive play in regulation time. He was lucky that Gentile's three-point attempt didn't go in. In overtime, Petrovic was the decisive man for the Spanish team as he scored 11 points. Looking at the number of rebounds, 47 of Caserta against Real Madrid's 22, it is hard to imagine that Real Madrid won being that inferior (in part because starting center Fernando Martin played with a broken right thumb). But the Spanish team had a better percentage in two-point shots (31 of 51 against 24 of 56), even though both teams had good accuracy from the three-point arc (Real Madrid 12 of 22, Caserta 12 of 24).
For his 62 points, Petrovic made 8 of 16 three-pointers, 12 of 24 two-pointers and 14 of 15 free throws. Oscar Schmidt, to get his 44 points, made 5 of 19 twos, 6 of 11 threes and 16 of 17 free throws. Perhaps what made the difference was the better accuracy of Petrovic, who finished the competition with 281 points in 9 games, averaging an amazing 31.2 per game!
It was another unforgettable title game, especially because of the great performances of two of the biggest scorers ever in European basketball.
Saturday, March 12, 2011