In the second edition of TalkBasket’s EuroLeague Final Four flashbacks, we visit the 2003 Final Four, which was held at the Palau Saint Jordi in Barcelona and it was Barca themselves who claimed the title after a 19-year wait for continental silverware. They beat Benetton Treviso 76-65.
It was a first Final Four championship game appearance (and title) for Juan Carlos Navarro, who has since gone on to become the EuroLeague’s all-time leading scorer.
The impressive Palau Saint Jordi in the heart of where the 1992 Olympics was held was a fitting setting for the end of a long sporting draught.
For Barcelona fans, who are used to regular success, 19 years was simply too long.
But, on a scorching Sunday evening on May 11, Barcelona ended the wait with an impressive 76-65 win over Benetton Treviso in front of 16,670 fans, mainly home town Catalan supporters who cried tears of joy at the end.
“Without pressure and suffering you don’t win big things,” said Dejan Bodiroga, who claimed a second straight EuroLeague title, having won it with Panathinaikos the year before.
“We had to assimilate and get to know each other in eight months, but we managed to win in the end.”
And it was Bodiroga who claimed Final Four MVP honours, for his game-high 20 points in the title game. A deserved award with a performance that is still remembered today.
Despite foul trouble, that plagued him throughout, Gregor Fucka added 17 points, Rodrigo De la Fuente scored 11 and German international Patrick Femerling came off the bench for nine points.
“It’s incredible,” Femerling said afterwards. “Every season the teams improve and it’s harder to win any title. In this moment I don’t know what to say. Maybe only: Unbelievable.”
From the second quarter onwards, Benetton Treviso had their backs to the wall. They were held to just nine points after taking a 25-23 lead at the end of the first period. In the end, they shot a disappointing 16 percent from three-point land [4/25] and for coach Ettore Messina, it was his second straight loss in a EuroLeague championship game.
Thus Edney led the Italian side with 16 points and five assists.
Trailing by two, heading into the second period, Barcelona went to work inside in the early stages, bringing in Femerling and Roberto Dueñas, who scored the first six points and when a young Sarunas Jasikevicius hit all three of his foul shots, the hosts had built a commanding advantage as they held Treviso to just a single point in the first five minutes of the period.
The half-time buzzer sounded, and Barcelona had a 42-34 lead and the hoards of Barca fans were on their feet.
Treviso were still game to make a fight of this and narrowed the gap in the early stages of the third period before a three-pointer from Trajan Langdon tied the game at 47-47. The momentum seemed to be shifting back to the Italian side.
But Barcelona once more went up the gears and finished the quarter on an 8-1 run to take a 55-48 lead heading into the fourth.
Treviso once again stepped up and a score from Edney put them up 55-52 with eight minutes left in the game before counter three-pointers from Jasikevicius and Navarro put Barcelona back in the lead for good, as they began their scoring runs that would lead them to global stardom.
And with the score at 63-58 in Barcelona’s favour; it was only fitting that the legendary Bodiroga decided to take over and put his stamp on the game with six unanswered points to end the game.
Watch the full game below