1972–73 Serie A (basketball)

The 1972–73 Serie A basketball championship was the 50th season of the Serie A, the highest professional basketball league in Italy.

Serie A
Duration24 October 1972 – 25 April 1973
Number of games26
Number of teams14
Regular season
RelegatedGorena Padova
Gamma Varese
ChampionsIgnis Varese
6th title
  Runners-upSimmenthal Milano
Statistical leaders
Points United States Bob Morse 29.8
Highest scoringS. Milano 118–106 N. Bologna
(31 December 1972)
Winning streak19 games
Simmenthal Milano
Losing streak7 games
Gamma Varese

The regular season ran from 22 October 1972 to 22 April 1973, an expanded league saw fourteen teams play 26 games each. As Ignis Varese and Simmenthal Milano ended joint first with an equal head-to-head record, a single playoff game decided the title for the third year running. Varese won the game, played in Bologna, to reclaim the title from Milano, earning their sixth overall title (and a spot in the European Champions Cup).


Perennial powerhouses Simmenthal Milano and Ignis Varese were seen as even-matched overwhelming favourites to fight for the title, which Milano had won the previous season following a title playoff game against Ignis. Aspiring team Forst Cantù, on the back of a good season that had seen them beat Ignis away, were touted as a possible third powerhouse that could join the title fight.[1] At the other end of the spectrum, promoted sides Gamma Varese and Brill Cagliari were the favourites to go back down, with Gorena Padova and Partenope Napoli to possibly join them in the relegation fight.[2]

The most important squad change saw American Bob Morse replace star Mexican Manuel Raga as Ignis' sole foreigner in the league (they were both allowed to play in European competition) with his adaptation or lack of crucial to their title chances.[3] Though they had lost substitute Tony Gennari to Splügen Venezia,[4] the Nikolić coached team had otherwise kept their major Italians such as Dino Meneghin. Simmenthal, coached by Cesare Rubini, trusted their all-action American Art Kenney and their young Italians such as Giulio Iellini and Renzo Bariviera, whilst the form of an ageing Massimo Masini could prove important. The upstarts from Cantù meanwhile, counted on the combination of American center Bob Lienhard with promising Italians Pierluigi Marzorati and Carlo Recalcati,[1] whilst Mobilquattro Milano made an important signing in Chuck Jura.[4]

League regulations called for all clubs to play in arenas holding at least 3,500 spectators but four clubs (Cantù, Padova, Venezia and Saclà Asti) were given exemptions for the season though their arenas fell short of requirements (Asti's arena hosting only 700 for example).[5]

Regular seasonEdit

The three favourites initially comfortably raced into a shared lead, this changed with Simmenthal's upset in the fifth round to mid-table Splügen Venezia led by American Steve Hawes and Gennari.[6] The Milanese would recover however, decisively downing Cantù 87-76 in the first clash between the three top sides on 10 December, using the same starting five (Kenney, Iellini, Masini, Bariviera and Giuseppe Brumatti) for 40 minutes to stifle their opponents' scoring.[7]

After Ignis also downed Cantù, the title chase reverted to the usual two-horse race between them and Simmenthal, with a clash in Milan on 14 January 1973. The home-side eked out a close 76-72 to go level on points with Ignis. In a game of two halves – with an entertaining first half (42-40) and a scrappy second one – Simmenthal won the game on the back of good performances both in attack and defense from Barivera (23 points), Masini and a diminished Kenney (both 14 points). Ignis, meanwhile, relied too heavily on the selfish Morse – leading the league in scoring – who scored 29 points (on 14 for 23 shooting) but played his teammates ouf of the game.[8]

The next rounds saw the status quo remain, with the most notable event being an Ignis' 25-point victory over Simmenthal, though this time in the European Champions Cup first semi-final in early March. Ignis played modest Brill Cagliari (before last in the league) in between the two semi-finals, with fatigue and lack of focus certainly playing a part in the surprising 75-76 defeat to the Sardinians that saw Simmenthal overtake them and move into first place by two points.[9]

After both beat Cantù anew, the title was to be decided once again by the return match between the powerhouses on 18 April, this time in Varese, with the home-team – unbeaten against Simmenthal at home for nearly eight years – confident of winning. That prediction proved to be correct as the newly crowned European Champions took the game 90-79, helped by two scoring performances by Ivan Bisson (34 points) and Morse (30 points). Simmenthal and Varese traded blows equally during the first two quarters, before Kenney struck Meneghin whilst they were fighting for a ball, leaving him with a bloodied nose that took him off the court for the game. Tensions flared after this incident, with the public raging after both the referees (who left the American unpunished) and Kenney, who dominated Meneghin's replacement Ottorino Flaborea to grab offensive rebounds and push Milano in front. However the same Kenney's departure from the court seven minutes into the second half for five fouls, followed three minutes later by Masini for the same reasons, decisively changed the flow of the game in Varese's favour, they soon took a ten-point lead they would not relinquish.[10]

The last round unsurprisingly saw both win their games to finish on the same points and head-to-head record, once again creating the need for a one-off play-off game to crown the champion (the third such occurrence in as many years).


Serie A 1972–73 – Club Locations
Pos Teams P W L PF PA Champion or relegation
1 Ignis Varese 26 24 2 2411 1761 Title playoff (see below)
2 Simmenthal Milano 26 24 2 2413 1986
3 Forst Cantù 26 21 5 2364 2009
4 Mobilquattro Milano 26 12 14 2048 2150
5 Snaidero Udine 26 12 14 2046 2115
6 Norda Bologna 26 12 14 2152 2183
7 Saclà Asti 26 11 15 1989 2044
8 Splügen Venezia 26 11 15 2031 2068
9 Partenope Napoli 26 11 15 1999 2227
10 Alco Bologna 26 10 16 1816 1985
11 Maxmobili Pesaro 26 10 16 1925 2030
12 Brill Cagliari 26 10 16 2003 2153
13 Gorena Padova 26 9 17 1829 2003 Relegation to Serie B
14 Gamma Varese 26 5 21 1872 2184

Source: Lega Basket

Ranking by head-to-head record then points differential in case of tie (see record).

Individual scoring tableEdit

Rank Name Team Points PPG
1.   Bob Morse Ignis Varese 819 31.5
2.   Don Holcomb Brill Cagliari 709 28.4
3.   Chuck Jura Mobilquattro Milano 628 24.1
4.   Steve Hawes Splügen Venezia 603 23.2
5.   Paolo Gurini Maxmobili Pesaro 566 21.8
6.   Gary Schull Alco Bologna 561 21.6
7.   John Fultz Norda Bologna 561 25.5
8.   Carl Johnson Gorena Padova 527 21.1
9.   Pierluigi Marzorati Forst Cantù 508 19.5
10.   David Hall Snaidero Udine 476 20.7

Source: unofficial statistics compiled by the Giganti del Basket magazine (official statistics started from the 1975–76 season).[11]


Title playoffEdit

The title-deciding playoff game was played in Bologna's Palazzo dello Sport on 25 April 1973 in front of 7,000 people. Simmenthal first took a 10-6 lead on the back of Bariviera's efficient marking of Morse, staying ahead for nearly all the first half before Marino Zanatta put Ignis in front 16 minutes in (30-29). The same Zanatta picked up his fourth foul soon after and his absence in defense saw Simmenthal push in front, taking a 63-54 lead 33 minutes in. However, a minute later Kenney departed after committing his fifth foul, followed two minutes later by Bariviera with the score (68-63) still favouring the Milanese though the loss of two of their forwards put them on the back foot. Ignis took advantage of the height differential and their forwards, Meneghin (playing with a face mask to protect his nose), Morse (top-scorer with 31 points) and Bisson (marked by a 12 cm smaller Brumatti) scored seemingly at will, equalising (68-68) two minutes from the end before racing home to a 74-70 win to claim the title back from Simmenthal.[12]

Italian CupEdit

Holders Simmenthal were surprisingly sent crashing out at the quarterfinal stage by Saclà who were joined in the Brescia-based final four by another promoted side, Cagliari, with the other semi-final pitting Varese against Cantù.[13] Saclà and Ignis made it to the final, which was easily won 94-65 by the Italian champions, who added the cup to their domestic, European and Intercontinental titles. As they were already qualified for the 1973–74 European Champions Cup, Asti took their place in the European Cup Winners' Cup.[14]

Championship-winning squadEdit

Ignis Varese 1972–73 Serie A champions

Source: Lega Basket


  1. ^ a b Tavarozzi, Antonio (20 October 1972). "Tre care nemiche" [Three dear enemies]. ArchivoLaStampa.it (in Italian). Retrieved 1 August 2016.
  2. ^ Tavarozzi, Antonio (19 October 1972). "La nuova era dei canestri" [The new hoops era]. ArchivoLaStampa.it (in Italian). Retrieved 1 August 2016.
  3. ^ Tavarozzi, Antonio (19 October 1972). "Basket: L'Ignis Varese con un nuovo straniero" [Basketball: Ignis Varese with a new foreigner]. ArchivoLaStampa.it (in Italian). Retrieved 1 August 2016.
  4. ^ a b Madella, Gian Maria (19 October 1972). "Ignis e Simmenthal sempre le più forti" [Ignis and Simmenthal still the strongest]. ArchivoStoricoUnita.it (in Italian). Archived from the original on 16 September 2016. Retrieved 3 August 2016.
  5. ^ Tavarozzi, Antonio (21 September 1972). "Torino ancora una volta perde il grande basket" [Turin once again loses out on elite basketball]. ArchivoLaStampa.it (in Italian). Retrieved 3 August 2016.
  6. ^ "Forst e Ignis restano sole" [Forst and Ignis remain alone]. ArchivoLaStampa.it (in Italian). 20 November 1972. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  7. ^ Tavarozzi, Antonio (11 December 1972). "Classe e grinta del Simmenthal, ridimensionano la Forst (87-76)" [Class and guts from Simmenthal, they cut Forst down to size]. ArchivoLaStampa.it (in Italian). Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  8. ^ Tavarozzi, Antonio (15 January 1973). "I campioni vincono allo sprint. L'Ignis cede per quattro punti" [The champions win the dash. Ignis yields by four points]. ArchivoLaStampa.it (in Italian). Retrieved 3 August 2016.
  9. ^ "Sorpresa nel basket: Ignis k.o. a Cagliari per un punto" [Surprise in basketball: Ignis K.O. at Cagliari by a point]. ArchivoLaStampa.it (in Italian). 5 March 1973. Retrieved 3 August 2016.
  10. ^ Tavarozzi, Antonio (19 April 1973). "L'Ignis agguanta il Simmenthal" [Ignis catches Simmenthal]. ArchivoLaStampa.it (in Italian). Retrieved 3 August 2016.
  11. ^ "Serie A 1972-73 - classifica marcatori e spareggi" [1972–73 Serie A – scorers table and playoffs] (PDF). LegaBasket.it (in Italian). Retrieved 4 August 2016.
  12. ^ Tavarozzi, Antonio (26 April 1973). "L'Ignis con uno sprint finale (74-70) strappa lo scudetto al Simmenthal" [Ignis, with a final dash (74-70), snatches the championship from Milan]. ArchivoLaStampa.it (in Italian). Retrieved 3 August 2016.
  13. ^ Tavarozzi, Antonio (10 May 1973). "L'Ignis per un altro trionfo. Il Saclà pensando al futuro" [Ignis for another triumph. Saclà thinking ahead]. ArchivoLaStampa.it (in Italian). Retrieved 3 August 2016.
  14. ^ Tavarozzi, Antonio (12 May 1973). "Anche il Saclà ha un grande record" [Saclà also has a great record]. ArchivoLaStampa.it (in Italian). Retrieved 3 August 2016.

External linksEdit