Club profile: Virtus Segafredo Bologna

Aug 06, 2021 by Print
Club profile: Virtus Segafredo Bologna

Virtus Segafredo Bologna starts a new era with Sergio Scariolo as head coach. Last season, 19 consecutive wins were not enough for Virtus to qualify for the EuroCup Finals. The Italian powerhouse returns to the competition with the same two goals: qualifying for the 2022-23 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague and becoming the first Italian team to win the 7DAYS EuroCup.

Virtus began as a gymnastics club in 1879, formed its first professional basketball team in the late 1920s and proceeded to consistently win championships for more than half a century. Virtus so enjoyed its first Italian title in 1945 that it added three more in a row. It returned to the top in Italy in 1955 and 1956, but that preceded a 20-year drought. Since then, however, trophies have been lifted consistently, starting with four Italian League crowns between 1976 and 1984, the last coming with an Italian Cup victory for the club's first double. The second double came six years later, with an Italian Cup and the first mark made by Virtus on the European stage, the 1990 Saporta Cup; Virtus beat Real Madrid 79-74 in the championship game behind an outstanding Michael Ray Richardson.

It won three consecutive Italian League titles from 1993 to 1995. A shining moment came in 1998 when Virtus won its first EuroLeague crown and doubled up with another Italian championship. Predrag Danilovic, Zoran Savic, Antoine Rigaudeau and Coach Ettore Messina led Virtus to that EuroLeague title. Things got even better in 2001 as Virtus claimed the EuroLeague, Italian League and Italian Cup titles, a first-ever Triple Crown behind Marko Jaric, Manu Ginobili, Rigaudeau, Matjaz Smodis and Rashad Griffith. Virtus lost in the 2002 EuroLeague final and soon after suffered financial troubles, leading to a merge with FuturVirtus Castelmaggiore in the Italian second division to avoid disappearing.

Virtus returned to the EuroLeague for the 2007-08 season and lost four consecutive Italian Cup finals from 2007 to 2010. It lifted the EuroChallenge trophy in 2009 after defeating Cholet Basket 75-77. Virtus slipped to the Italian second division in 2016, but returned to the top tier a year later and won the Basketball Champions League in 2019 by defeating Iberostar Tenerife in the final. It returned to the EuroCup the following season and, led by Milos Teodosic and Marco Belinelli, was undefeated in the 2020-21 EuroCup Regular Season, Top 16 and Quarterfinals, but UNICS Kazan stopped Virtus in the semis. Virtus finished the 2020-21 EuroCup with a 19-2 record, one of the best ever in the competition. No team will be more motivated this time around.