Basket: Cus Bologna once again on the roof of Europe

For the third consecutive year, the Alma Mater team won the EUSA European Universities Basketball Championship.

In the final against the Turks of Beykent University, it played a neck and neck game until the last quarter. The Bologna team then left its opponents behind and won the game 90-78. Coach Matteo Lolli said: ‘We never gave in. The guys were amazing once again. We’re a real team and we’re not afraid of anyone. After all, that’s what makes all the difference.’

The fairy tale of Cus Bologna continues at the CityZen Sports Center in Poznan (Poland). Before leaving (in the presence of the partner Macron and sponsor Matteiplast), the rector Francesco Ubertini had made himself clear. He asked the Cus Bologna for a miracle or something like that: the third European university title in basketball, to emulate the accomplishments of the Lithuanians. And, as if by magic – but actually behind it lies the great work carried out by President Piero Pagni and by the club’s manager Federico Panieri – the Alma Mater Studiorum is once again at the roof of Europe for the third consecutive year. After Miskolc 2017 and Coimbra 2018, it is now time for Poznan 2019 as part of the EUSA European Universities Basketball Championship.

The paradox is that it could be easy to win, with a little bit of luck. Confirming, or rather, tripling the result means having the courage to plan, invest in ideas and people, believe in a project that is aimed at bringing the University of Bologna into the spotlight in the sports world.

In the final, on the other side of the court, there aren’t the Lithuanians from Vytautas Magnus University who, in their debut game, had beaten the red and white team. Rector Ubertini would have liked to see the Bologna team play against the Lithuanians in the final, so as to be able to pass the baton. The Cus is in the final, whereas the Lithuanians only got to the semifinals; like last year, the red and white team will be playing against the Turks of Beykent University. The Turks are tall and bulky and, like a year ago in Portugal, they try to show off their muscles. But Cus, as Coach Lolli said the night before the game, is not afraid of anyone. He respects everyone, but will do everything in his power to turn history into legend.

Valerio Cucci is always there, fighting like a lion. Gherardo Sabatini, who joined Cus Bologna this season, displays all his talent. Before the final, he had taken stock of this new situation without overdoing it. In the final, he turned the game around by scoring 22 points. Cus Bologna catches up, takes the lead at halftime, but is behind again at the end of the third quarter. Sabatini scored 20 of his 22 points in the next quarter, Cucci is like a hammer, Fin doesn’t take a step back. And Chiappelli, the team captain, is always ready to fight. There are some technical fouls too, but Cus Bologna doesn't stop. The last quarter is unbelievable: The Alma Mater guys win 32-15 and can once again chant together “We are, we are, we are the champions of Europe”. 

The whole stadium cheered: Poland and Europe understood how, yet again, in order to win you need to deal with the Alma Mater guys. There is room for Valerio Cucci who accepted the award as MVP of the event. There is room for the Cus Bologna, which had to and wanted to redeem itself for coming fourth in the Italian championships. We needed to win in order to qualify for the 2020 European Championships. Cus Bologna handed the victory on a silver platter.

Matteo Lolli’s tough guy mask finally comes off. The coach of Cus Bologna, who has been there for several years and has won everything (in one season he also one his own treble with an Italian university title, Playground of Giardini Margherita and the European University Championship), is full of pride and deeply moved. Matteo buys time, pauses. Not as if he were a worn-out actor, but as a person and real coach. As the minutes go by, he realises that he has just achieved something absolutely incredible.

‘There’s so much emotion going on. They’re dismantling everything here in Poland. But we’re still here, we’re the only ones left, because we celebrated right to the end. We had a great time. I may be repeating myself, but the guys were amazing once again. They are amazing because they follow my instructions and believe in and listen to what I tell them, even when perhaps they shouldn’t. We’re a team, we’re a real team. When we played against each other, our opponents could tell that this is what we are. You’re a real team. After all, that’s what makes all the difference. The Turks were stronger, there's no point beating about the bush. But we were there, we never gave in. And, in the last quarter, we left our opponents behind. Again, there’s so much emotion going on. It’s time to thank those who made it possible for us to be here. Winning and celebrating. Starting with Federico Panieri, who is our leader. And the Magnificent Rector who is always with us. Who gave us the opportunity to be here. Thanks to our friends from Macron and Matteiplast. I have nothing to say about the game. Everyone did their part. It was great. We’re a real team. And I'm glad that we’re receiving many messages from Bologna even at this time. Our team has many fans and lots of friends. We’re a real team and we’re not afraid of anyone. Go Cus Bologna! And now let’s go have some fun because we really deserved it.’

And the referee Alessandro Tirozzi can’t help but join the final party where the team goes wild. As always, his refereeing was impeccable. However, for some years now, there has been no chance for him to be able to referee a final, since the final will be played by his fellow countrymen and travel companions. A friend of Cus Bologna, another guy who can party.

Cus Bologna-Beykent University 90-78 (23-27; 44-43; 58-63). Cus Bologna: Valerio Cucci 27, Gherardo Sabatini 22, Marco Timperi 11, Gabriele Fin 10, Matteo Folli 4, Gioacchino Chiappelli 4, Carlo Trentin 4, Marco Montanari 3, Matteo Polverelli 3, Alessio Tugnoli 2, Gustavo Savio, Riccardo Zani. Coach: Matteo Lolli (assistant coach Giorgio Broglia). Beykent University: Gulaslan 24, Ozdemiroglu 18, Erulku 15, Celep 10, Ulusoy 6, Tanisan 5, Pamukcu, Tekin, Cosar, Tankeu, Sahin. All. Han Duru.

The final ranking: 1) Università degli Studi di Bologna (Italy); 2) Beykent University (Turkey); 3) Vytautas Magnus University (Lithuania); 4) Rouen (France); 5) Pitest (Romania); 6) Polytechnic University of Madrid 1 (Spain); 7) Estonian University of Life Sciences (Estonia); 8) College of Management Academic Studies (Israel); 9) Rennes (France); 10) Coimbra (Portugal); 11) Polytechnic University of Madrid 2 (Spain); 12) Poznan (Poland).

Published on: 05 August 2019