Union Olimpija Doing It Tough
Union Olimpija easily saw off Helios Domzale in the semifinals. In the other semifinal, Slovan surprised Pivovarna Lasko, setting up an all Ljubljana final. Game 1 in Tivoli Hall was a closely contested match, but in the end Olimpija won 75:70. Many experts predicted it would be a straight forward run to the title for Olimpija, but Slovan had other ideas and were determined to give their all. Simon Petrov, who played for Olimpija last season, had a great night in the 2nd game, guiding Slovan to an 89:67 victory to tie the series 1:1. Game 3 was very important, as Olimpija had to protect their home court advantage. They led by six points after three periods, but in the final quarter Slovan had a chance to cause an upset. Dean Oliver missed a shot at the buzzer and the game went into overtime. Marino Bazdaric showed all his experience in the additional 5 minutes of playing time, scoring two three-pointers helping Olimpija grind out a 92:83 victory. The 4th game was all Slovan and they won 89:74. Centre Miha Zupan was in scintillating form, scoring 26 points whilst Petrov added 24. More than 3,000 spectators assembled at Tivoli Hall for the decider. After three periods, Olimpija had a slender advantage (63:62), but then Vladimer Boisa exploded into life and scored 14 of his 32 points and Olimpija went on to win easily 99:75. Their home fans, the Green Dragons, stormed onto the court and celebrated with the players. "Our experience was decisive. Slovan had nothing to lose and were very relaxed. I'm very happy because I had a great last game. It's a nice way to finish to a very long season,'' were the first words of Vladimer Boisa, the hero of the final series. "We didn't play well defensively and that cost us the title. I have to be satisfied, nobody expected that we would be able to play so well in the final series,'' said the Geoplin Slovan coach, Zoran Martic. Poor Performance in the Euroleague In the Euroleague, Union Olimpija failed to qualify for the second phase of the competition for the first time in nine years. Although they defeated the reigning European champions Maccabi Tel Aviv 93:81, they failed to reproduce this form in their other fixtures. In the Adriatic League, they qualified for the Final 8 tournament in Belgrade, but lost their quarterfinal match against Reflex. The club remains in financial difficulty - in July 2002 they had a debt of EUR 3.5 million, though they have managed to reduce this sum to EUR 1 million. While young star Saso Ozbolt is still under contract for next season, two other key players are set to leave the club. Vladimer Boisa has been offered a lucrative contract by Siena and Marino Bazdaric is set to depart to Olympiakos. Slovan have already replaced their coach, after Zoran Martic decided to step down from the role. Their new coach is Ales Pipan, who is also the coach of the Slovenian national team. Basketball fans are already counting down the days to the start of the 2005 European Championships in Serbia and Montenegro. Slovenia will play in Group C along with France, Greece and Bosnia and Hercegovina. The championships will take place from 16th to 26th September.