May 11, 2003 CET: 20:30
Local time: 20:30 PALAU SANT JORDI

FC Barcelona is the 2002-03 Euroleague champion!

A city that waited decades for this moment erupted in celebration on Sunday night as FC Barcelona seized the Euroleague 2002-03 crown at home with a brilliant 76-65 victory over Benetton Treviso. Almost 20 years after the first of five previous losing attempts in the final game, Barcelona got it right Sunday, taking over in the second quarter and slapping down Benetton's only solid comeback attempt in the third. Once againd, Dejan Bodiroga was voted MVP for leading the champions with 20 points. A trio of three-pointers midway through the final quarter - from Sarunas Jasikevicius, Juan Carlos Navarro and Bodiroga - broke open a three-point game to give Barca an 11-point lead with 90 seconds left. Those seconds were enjoyed with euphoria by the Barca fans who had lived through so many disappointments in the final game before. Tonight, at last, was their night. The ghosts are gone for good. Barcelona is Europe's best.

Barcelona did it all, shooting well throughout the game, defending so well as to hold Benetton to 9 points in the pivotal second quarter, and absolutely dominating in rebounds, 37-27 at game's end. It was a classic team effort. Gregor Fucka added 17 points despite foul trouble. Rodrigo De la Fuente scored 11 and had 8 rebounds. Patrick Femerling came off the bench for 9 points. Benetton had trouble shooting all night, making only 4 of 25 three-pointers and finding Barca's front wall every time it drove inside. Tyus Edney had 16 points to lead Benetton. Massimo Bulleri added 11 and Denis Marconato 10.

Let the record show that Gregor Fucka dropped a nifty left hook to start the game and send the crowd into a frenzy. He also drew the game's first foul at the other end, but on the same possession, Bodiroga and Edney drew their first ones, too. Edney's steal and fastbreak layup would put Benetton on the board at 2-2. Edney tied it again, 4-4, on a jumper, but Fucka calmly dropped a three-pointer. Benetton struck back with a Denis Marconato tip-in and a triple by Langdon to retake a 7-9 lead. But no lead was destined to last long. Roberto Dueñas reversed a layup of a great feed by Fucka, and then Rodrigo De la Fuente finished a break for 11-9. But just as quickly, Jorge Garbajosa put Benetton back ahead with a triple. De la Fuente answered with a spin move and the accompanying foul shot. He then added a corner jumper for a 16-13 Barca lead, but away from the play, Fucka got hit with his second foul and had to sit. De la Fuente splashed in another jumper around two points each by Garbajosa and Manuchar Markoishvili, but it was another three-pointer, by semifinal Massimo Bulleri, that regained the lead. Bodiroga took it right back, however, with consecutive driving backets, but those would be Barca's last points of the quarter. Edney put up the last 3 points of the quarter, enough to leave Benetton with a slim 23-25 advantage on the scoreboard after 10 minutes.

Barcelona made a big move with a big lineup to start the second quarter. Twin towers Roberto Dueñas and Patrick Femerling went to work fast, scoring the first 6 points of the quarter inside. Jasikevicius got 3 free throws and made them all. Then, taking advantage of three fouls to Langdon, Bodiroga warmed up by taking Markoishvili to the lane for consecutive baskets. Amid all that, Benetton had only a single free throw by Edney to show for the first 5 minutes of the quarter. Garbajosa and Nicola were getting open outside shots, but missing, while Langdon still languished on the bench. Benetton's little guys were making forays into the lane, but running into the brickwall frontcourt of Barca. Finally, Nicola broke the ice, with a drive. But De la Fuente and Bodiroga put up 2 points each for the biggest lead of the game thus far, 40-28. Benetton needed to finish the half strong, and did, with Marconato knocking down a baseline jumper, Nicola dropping a shot and Bulleri nailing 2 free throws. As such, Barca's lead was cut to 42-34 at the half.

Benetton made its own big move after halftime. Pittis and Edney got free underneath for a pair of baskets to start it. Masssimo Bulleri matched them himself, again going to the rim, as the Barca lead was cut to 46-42. The run would continue with another shot from Edney, and then a game-tying three-pointer by Trajan Langdon. The scoreboard read 47-47 with less than 3 minutes left, but Barca did not waste them. The big men brought their size to bear once more. Fucka made a tip-in. Femerling to the the line on an offensive rebounds and hit both free throws. Fucka got the next offensive board and put it back, then Femerling went to the line again. Benetton's comeback was erased and the quarter ended with Barca guarding a seven-point lead, 55-48.

Benetton needed another reaction, and again seemed to have it as Marconato and Edney landed a pair of jumpers. It was now 55-52 with 8 minutes left, either team's game still, until Barca's shooters stepped up. Jasikevicius, quiet until then, popped from the three-point arc. After Pittis scored inside, Navarro found himself open for a three: it, too, splashed through the net for a 61-54 lead. A Marconato basket and a pair of free throws by Navarro cancelled each other out as the 5-minute mark passed. Langdon scored on a drive for 63-58, but then Bodiroga decided it was time to take over. Standing on the three-point line, he took a pass from the middle, raised up and nailed it wiith 3:40 to play. He would make 3 of 4 free throws in the next 90 seconds, a personal 6-0 run that started people dancing in the aisles. The scoreboard read 69-58 with 1 minutes, 30 seconds remaining. The outcome was clear, and it meant that, at last, Barcelona could join the ranks of continental champions.

Svetislav Pesic - FC Barcelona champ - Final Four Barcelona 2003 - EB02
Sunday, May 11, 2003
Frank Lawlor, Euroleague.net
Attendance: 16670
By Quarter1234
FC Barcelona23191321
Benetton Treviso2591417
End of Quarter1234
FC Barcelona23425576
Benetton Treviso25344865
FC Barcelona
  Rebounds Blocks Fouls
# Player Min Pts 2FG 3FG FT O D T As St To Fv Ag Cm Rv PIR
5 RODRIGUEZ, NACHO 14:00 2   0/1 2/4   2 2     1     2 2  
6 ALZAMORA, ALFONS DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
7 FUCKA, GREGOR 28:00 17 5/7 1/4 4/4 2 4 6 1   1 1   4 4 19
8 FEMERLING, PATRICK 26:00 9 1/2   7/7 1 3 4   1 2 2   1 5 17
9 BRAVO, CESAR DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
10 BODIROGA, DEJAN 38:00 20 5/7 1/2 7/9 1 7 8 2 1 3     2 6 27
11 NAVARRO, JUAN CARLOS 15:00 5 0/3 1/3 2/2       2 3 2   1 3 3 2
12 DUENAS, ROBERTO 21:00 3 1/4   1/2 2 2 4   1 1     4 1  
13 JASIKEVICIUS, SARUNAS 24:00 8   1/6 5/5   1 1 1   4     5 3 -1
14 DE LA FUENTE, RODRIGO 29:00 11 3/4   5/5   8 8     3 1   4 4 16
16 VAREJAO, ANDERSON 5:00 1     1/2   1 1     1     2 1 -1
18 VAN DE HARE, REMON DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Team           1 2 3   6           9
Totals 200:00 76 15/27 4/16 34/40 7 30 37 6 12 18 4 1 27 29 88
        55.6% 25% 85%
Min: Minutes played; Pts: Points; 2FG M-A: 2-point Field Goals (Made-Attempted); 3FG M-A: 3-point Field Goals (Made-Attempted); FT M-A: Free Throws (Made-Attempted); Rebounds: O (Offensive), D (Defensive), T (Total); As: Assists; St: Steals; To: Turnovers; Bl: Blocks (Fv: In Favor / Ag: Against); Fouls: Cm (Commited), Rv (Received); PIR: Performance Index Rating
Benetton Treviso
  Rebounds Blocks Fouls
# Player Min Pts 2FG 3FG FT O D T As St To Fv Ag Cm Rv PIR
4 NICOLA, MARCELO 23:00 5 1/2 0/5 3/4   2 2 1     1 1 5 3 -1
5 EDNEY, TYUS 29:00 16 6/10 0/3 4/8 1 1 2 5 1 3   1 3 7 13
6 LANGDON, TRAJAN 20:00 8 1/3 2/5   1 2 3   1       5 2 4
7 PITTIS, RICCARDO 28:00 4 2/3     2   2 1 2 2   1 4 2 3
8 MARCONATO, DENIS 27:00 10 5/6     3 4 7 1 2 2     3 2 16
9 BULLERI, MASSIMO 27:00 11 3/7 1/5 2/3         1 3   1 4 3 -2
10 LONCAR, KRESIMIR 1:00                              
13 MARKOISHVILI, MANUCHAR 15:00 2 1/3             1       2 1  
15 GARBAJOSA, JORGE 30:00 9 0/1 1/7 6/6 1 4 5 1   2     3 7 10
16 EPPEHIMER, NICK DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
20 SOLTAU, THOMAS DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Team             5 5   9           14
Totals 200:00 65 19/35 4/25 15/21 8 18 26 9 17 12 1 4 29 27 57
        54.3% 16% 71.4%
This game has no play by play yet

Head Coaches

FC Barcelona

"With this atmosphere, in this magnificent arena, only one team could win: Barcelona. We dominated a great team and I have to congratulate my players. I must say 'thank you' to our fans. Now we need to organize a big celebration for this achievement. We played great defense against the best offensive team in Europe."

"First of all we planned to control Nicola and Langdon. We did a good job. In the beginning, we had some problems with Edney but then De La Fuente played very good defense against him."

"It was a basketball-related question how to play against a team with two centers that tend to play outside. We did it very well with two tall guys, 2.21 meters and 2.16 meters. I believe that Dueñas and Femerling did a very good job and I think that the 65 points Benetton scored is a negative record for them this season."

"It's a great result for Barcelona, for España, and for Catalonia, of course. I am calmed now but tomorrow maybe I will notice better what we did today. I will have time to celebrate in the future."

"I won everything in my career, I know. But I am a basketball coach and I like to have players who follow my plan and win. That was my biggest satisfaction today. I am 53 years old, I have some experience but I will carry on coaching. I like Barcelona and this isn't the last title with the team."

"OK, some people criticized me maybe because they didn't understand our basketball. I think that this is the right time to explain it. Basketball is an easy sport. They play five against five, with many possible combinations. It's not shooting. Of course it is easier when you have Bodiroga on your team. You don't know Bodiroga. He is the best player in practice, he understands basketball like no other and he can make his teammates better. Without great players like Bodiroga you can't have a great team."

Benetton Treviso

"It was a very difficult game. They played defense on our guards with tall players, all our shooters, they played a very good zone defense and for us, in this atmosphere, was impossible to shoot well. We lost some rebounds but we missed more open shots and all these facts explain the score."

"I want to congratulate my team, players and fans. We started the season thinking about the Euroleague final and the trophy. We worked hard, we played good basketball and maybe next year we will come back to make it."

"We had big problems with the inside game. They crushed us. We couldn't score. We lost because Barcelona is more physical than our team. They are taller and stronger. We go back to Italy with satisfaction. Right, we lost in Barcelona in front of 17.000 fans. Bodiroga did so many things today, but the key point was the great zone defense that Barcelona shot and our bad shooing percentage"


FC Barcelona

"I am very happy because I won my third consecutive final in the Euroleague. Barcelona was a new challenge for me. We played in our arena and I think that we worked so hard to win, just the way we did the last eight months. It was not so easy. We were a new team with new players and a new coach. I believe that all the team worked so hard."

"I agree that the pressure was so big. But if you are professional you must know to play with pressure and live with it."

"I signed with Barcelona not only to win the Euroleague title. I want to help the team in every game. We have won two titles so far. It is a great season."

"The semis and the final, with 16,000 fans or more, it was a demonstration of great organization and the beautiful event that is the Final Four. To win it is a precious thing, a title with weight behind it. It's a cup with a lot of prestige for any player."

"Without pressure and suffering you don't win big things. We had to assimilate and get to know each other in eight months, but we managed to win in the end."

FC Barcelona
"With these supporters nobody can lose. I dedicate this trophy to all the fans because of the long time they had to wait for this."
FC Barcelona
"We have been having a very good season and this is a fair reward. I would like to dedicate this victory to all the fans that supported us."
FC Barcelona
"It's incredible. 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!"
FC Barcelona
"I'm extremely happy. It certainly is the best day in my life."
FC Barcelona
"We were waiting a long time for this triumph. Our main ambition this season was to win this title. We worked hard and now we achieved it."
FC Barcelona
"It's really a great victory. I'm very happy and I think these great fans deserved it. This win is for al of theml."
Benetton Treviso
"I agree with my coach. Barcelona played really strong defense. We couldn't penetrate, we couldn't shoot. We tried to get Dueñas and Fucka out of the box but we failed to do it. It was difficult to shoot in every second. I don't think that we are out of shape. Our preparation was good but Barcelona was a very hard team to beat today."