A very balanced final is about to begin in Italy

Virtus Segafredo Bologna and AX Armani Exchange Milano meet for the third consecutive year in the Lega Basket Serie A final, the strongest teams in the Italian championship refuse to make any mistakes in the playoff series. The Italian final will start on June 9 and will be played in the best-of-seven format, with Milano having the home-field advantage.

Milano did not have too many emotions on the way to the final this season. After winning the regular season with only 7 defeats in 30 rounds, they reached the quarterfinals of Pesaro, losing only one away game. In the semifinals, they won even more clearly against the 5th place, Sassari with 3 clear victories (95-72, 80-75, 93-61). All these performances are due to players with huge experience at the highest level: Napier, Shields, Voigtmann, Melli, Hall, Datome, Baron or Hines.

Like its opponent, Virtus also finished the regular season with only 7 defeats, but unlike Armani who lost a match in the playoffs, Bologna won both playoff series 3-0. It was the first time 3 victories with Brindisi in which they scored over 300 points followed by another 3 victories in the semifinal with Tortona, two with over 20 point differences. The team is made up of players who know how to win trophies: Hackett, Belinelli, Shengelia, Mickey, Teodosic, Jaiteh, Ojeleye, Abass, and Cordinier offer a very long and valuable rotation.

The coaches of the two teams are at the level of the teams present in the final: Ettore Messina (Milano), winner of 4 Euroleague and 5 times Italian League champion, twice named the best Euroleague coach and Sergio Scariolo (Virtus) winner of the NBA title as assistant coach with Toronto, coach of the Spanish national team and last season’s Eurocup winner. In the direct matches of this season, Virtus clearly dominates 4-1, winning both matches in the Euroleague, the semifinal of the Super Cup and the away match of the championship, Milano’s only victory being in the away match of the 13th round.

Considering that in the last two finals, the home advantage did not matter at all, Virtus won the final 4-0 in 2021 even though Armani had won the regular season, and in 2022 Milano won the final 4-2 even though Virtus had won the regular season, I expect that each team to obtain away victories, in terms of value being equal. There will also be a duel to watch between Shavon Shields (Milano), Finals MVP 2022 and Milos Teodosic (Virtus), Finals MVP 2021.

Valentin Petruta

Photo: EuroLeague