The Lega Basket Serie A (LBA) is a professional men's club basketball league that has been organised in Italy since 1920. Serie A is organised by Lega Basket, which is regulated by the Italian Basketball Federation (FIP). It is the highest-tier level of the Italian league system. The LBA plays under FIBA rules and currently consists of 16 teams, with the lowest-placed team relegated to the Serie A2 and replaced by the winner of the play-offs of that tier.

Lega Basket Serie A
Founded1920; 103 years ago (1920)
First season1920–21
FederationLega Basket
ConfederationFIBA Europe
Number of teams16
Level on pyramid1
Relegation toSerie A2
Domestic cup(s)Coppa Italia
International cup(s)EuroLeague
Champions League
Europe Cup
Current championsOlimpia Milano (30th title)
Most championshipsOlimpia Milano (30 titles)
PresidentUmberto Gandini
TV partnersDiscovery+
Rai Sport
2023–24 LBA season

A total of 99 teams have competed in the LBA since its inception. Seventeen teams have been crowned champions, with Olimpia Milano having won the title a record 30 times, and Virtus Bologna 16 times. According to FIBA Europe's and Euroleague Basketball's national league coefficients, the LBA was the historically top ranked national domestic league in Europe, for the period 1958 to 2007. Today, the LBA is considered to be one of the top European national basketball leagues. Its clubs have won the most EuroLeague championships (13), the most FIBA Saporta Cups (15), and the most FIBA Korać Cups (10).

History edit

First years edit

The first men's basketball championship was held in Italy in 1920, organized by the Royal Italian National Gymnastics Federation and won by S.E.F. Costanza Milano, led by Carlo Andreoli. However, the first championship officially organized by the newly formed Italian Basketball Federation (FIP) was instead disputed in 1922. During the first years, Milan's teams dominated the league: in the initial six seasons, there were five successes for Assi Milano and one for Internazionale Milano. Between 1928 and 1935, Ginnastica Roma and Ginnastica Triestina alternatively won the championship.

In 1936, the championship was won by Olimpia Milano; the title was the first of 28 championships won by Olimpia over the decades. The team, coached by Giannino Valli, won four consecutive championships, only interrupted by Trieste in 1939–1940 and 1940–1941. In 1941–42 and 1942–43, the title was won by Reyer Venezia, however, the following two seasons were never held, due to the break out of World War II on Italian soil.

From 1945 to the 1970s edit

Bill Bradley with Simmenthal Milano in 1966.

At the end of the war, the league was characterized by the rise of Virtus Bologna, which won four consecutive seasons.[1] Virtus would later become one of the most successful teams in Italy, capable of winning 16 titles through its history. From the 1949–50 season, the domination of Olimpia Milano began. Milan's team was able of winning 14 championships out of the 18 played up to 1966–67. The team, coached by Cesare Rubini, marked an unrepeatable dominance on the Italian league thanks to players like Sandro Gamba, Romeo Romanutti, Enrico Pagani and Bill Bradley. From 1954 to 1956, Virtus won the title again, achieving a so-called back-to-back under the leadership of Vittorio Tracuzzi, while in 1961 and 1964, Pallacanestro Varese was crowned Italian champion.

Bob Morse with Ignis Varese in 1973.

After the victory of Pallacanestro Cantù in 1968, Varese opened a new cycle of successes, winning 7 championships in 10 years, between 1968–69 and 1977–78. The team, led by Aldo Ossola, Dino Meneghin, Bob Morse, Manuel Raga and coached by Aza Nikolić, was widely considered one of the best in the history of Italian basketball, capable of winning five European titles during the same period. Olimpia Milano and Cantù respectively won the championship in 1972 and 1975, while Virtus won the title in 1976, coached by Dan Peterson, and achieved a back-to-back in 1978–79 and 1979–80, thanks to Krešimir Ćosić, one of the best centers in Europe, Renato Villalta, Carlo Caglieris and the captain Gianni Bertolotti.

The Golden Age of 1980s and 1990s edit

The 1980s and the 1990s are widely considered as the "golden age" of Italian basketball;[2] during these decades, the Italian championship became one of the most competitive in the world, often considered to be the second one after NBA.[3] The 1980s were characterized by a predominance of Olimpia Milano. The so-called "red shoes" were capable of winning five titles between 1981 and 1989, thanks to outstanding players like Mike D'Antoni, Bob McAdoo and Dino Meneghin.[4] Cantù won its third title in 1981, while Virtus Roma won its first and only championship in 1983, under the leadership of the American point guard Larry Wright.[5] In the 1983–84 season, Virtus Bologna won its tenth national title, defeating Olimpia Milano in the finals, while Victoria Libertas Pesaro was crowned Italian champion twice in 1988 and 1990.[6]

Predrag Danilović with Buckler Beer Bologna in 1995.

The 1990s began with the historic success of Nando Gentile and Vincenzo Esposito's Phonola Caserta; as of today, this title is still the only one won by a team from Southern Italy.[7] While the 1991–92 season was won by Toni Kukoč's Benetton Treviso. However, the 1990s were deeply marked by the dominance of Virtus Bologna: the "Black V" was able of winning four titles from 1992 to 1998, thanks to its Serbian star, Predrag Danilović, but also important players like Antoine Rigaudeau, Alessandro Abbio and Zoran Savić.[8] Treviso won the title again in 1997, while Varese won its tenth national championship in 1999, thanks to young and talented players like Andrea Meneghin and Gianmarco Pozzecco.

The league through the 2000s and 2010s edit

The 1999–2000 championship was won by Carlton Myers's Fortitudo Bologna, winning for the first time after three consecutive lost finals between 1995–96 and 1997–98. In the following season, Virtus Bologna of Manu Ginóbili was crowned national champion once again. Moreover, the Black V was able of winning both the Italian Cup and the EuroLeague, achieving a so-called Triple Crown (known in Italy as Grande Slam).[9] From 2002 to 2006, the Serie A was marked by a harsh rivalry between Benetton Treviso and Fortitudo Bologna: Treviso won the title in 2002, 2003 and 2006, always defeating Fortitudo in the national finals; Bologna's team won the title in 2005 against Olimpia Milano.

Shaun Stonerook with Montepaschi Siena in 2012.

In 2004, Mens Sana Siena won its first title, but it was only three years later, in 2007, that Siena would begun its dominance over the Italian league. From 2007 to 2013, the Tuscan team was able of winning seven consecutive titles, under the leaderships of Terrell McIntyre, Shaun Stonerook and Romain Sato. However, on 7 October 2016, following an investigation for accounting and fiscal fraud, the Court of the Italian Basketball Federation has revoked the championship titles awarded to Siena for the 2011–12 and 2012–13 seasons, two Italian Cups (2012 and 2013) and the 2013 Supercoppa.[10][11] Following Siena's relegation, Olimpia Milano, under the new ownership of Giorgio Armani, won the championship again in 2014, 2016 and 2018, while Dinamo Sassari won its first title in 2015, becoming the first team from Sardinia to do so. In 2017 and 2019, Reyer Venezia returned to the top of Italian league after more than seven decades.

Recent seasons edit

The 2019–20 regular season saw a strong prominence of Virtus Bologna, however, the season was cancelled prematurely because of the COVID-19 pandemic and, for the first time since 1945, the Italian league did not assigned the title. In the following season, Miloš Teodosić's Virtus Bologna won its 16th title, defeating 4–0 its historic rival Olimpia Milano in the national finals. It was Virtus's first title after twenty years.[12] In the following season, in a rematch of the latest finals, Olimpia Milano defeated Virtus Bologna 4–2.

Title sponsorships edit

From 1993 to 2022, the LBA had title sponsorship rights sold to ten companies; UnipolSal was the most recent title sponsor, having sponsored the LBA from 2020 to the present.

Period Sponsor Name
1993–1996 Luxottica Luxottica Cup
1996–1998 Polo Polo Cup
1998–1999 Ford Puma Ford Puma Trophy
1999–2000 SportWeek SportWeek Cup
2000–2003 Foxy Foxy Cup
2003–2009 TIM Serie A TIM
2009–2012 Agos Ducato Agos Ducato Serie A
2012–2016 Beko Serie A Beko
2016 No sponsor LBA
2016–2019 PosteMobile PosteMobile Serie A
2019–2020 No sponsor LBA
2020–present UnipolSai LBA UnipolSai

Following the end of the 2015–16 season, LBA has a new sponsor. The Turkish brand Beko left LBA after four years of sponsorship, and all its other basketball team sponsorships in Europe. Beko would focus on their sponsorship of the Spanish football team Barcelona.[13]

In December 2016, President Egidio Bianchi had communicated to have reached an agreement with PosteMobile to become the title sponsor of the LBA.[14] In July 2019, LBA announced that the agreement with PosteMobile for LBA ended on June 30.[15]

Competition format edit

Scudetto patch

The competition format follows a double round-robin format. During the course of a season, which lasts from October to May, each club plays each other twice (once at home and once away), for a total of 30 games. Teams rankings at season end is determined by receiving two points for a win and no points for a loss. At season end, the eight top teams play-off, pitting the first place standings team against the 8th place team, and so on.

There are three playoff rounds. The Quarterfinals are best of five, while the semifinals and finals series are best of seven (in the 2012–13 season, all series were best-of-seven). The winner of the finals round is the champion of the LBA.

At season's end, the last qualified club of the regular season is relegated to Serie A2 Basket, and replaced by the winner of the playoffs of this league.

Arena rules edit

LBA clubs must play in arenas that seat at least 3,500 people.[16] From 2017 to 2018 season, clubs must host their home playoffs matches in arenas that have a seating capacity of at least 5,000 people.[17]

Clubs composition edit

Each team is allowed either five or seven foreign players under two formulas:

  1. 5 foreigners from countries outside the European Union
  2. 3 foreigners from countries outside the E.U., 4 foreigners from E.U. countries (also including those from countries signatory of the Cotonou Agreement)

Each club can choose the 5+5 formula, that consists of five Italian players and five foreign players, and the 3+4+5 formula, with five Italian players, three foreigners from countries outside the E.U. and four foreigners from E.U. countries or "Cotonou Countries".[18]

At the end of the season there is a prize of €500,000 for the top three ranked teams, that had chosen the 5+5 formula, considering the playing time of Italian players, and €200,000 for those teams that will obtain the best results with their youth sector.[19]

Qualifying for European competitions edit

In summer 2016, four Italian teams (Reggio Emilia, Trento, Sassari and Cantù) were forced to withdraw from EuroCup because of the FIBA and Euroleague Basketball controversy.[20]

From 2017 to 2018 season, Italian Basketball Federation would allow LBA clubs to rejoin EuroCup. There will be at least six teams in Europe. One in EuroLeague (Olimpia Milano directly enter the EuroLeague as licensed club), two in EuroCup (but they are negotiating with ECA for a third spot) and three in Basketball Champions League.[21] Lega Basket decided Italian Clubs will be free to choose in which European Cup they want to play, based on final ranking and sports merit.[22]

Media edit

For the 2017–18, 2018–19 and 2019–20 seasons, domestic TV rights are shared by Rai Sport and Eurosport. The new frame shows Rai airing one game every Sunday on free TV, while Eurosport is the new owner of the pay TV, international and internet rights of the LBA.[23] Eurosport has TV rights also for Supercoppa and Coppa Italia.[24]

All matches are broadcast live on internet pay TV service.[25]

Current clubs edit

Venues and locations edit

Team Home city Arena Capacity 2022–23 result
Banco di Sardegna Sassari Sassari PalaSerradimigni 5,000[26] 4th
Bertram Derthona Basket Tortona Tortona PalaFerraris 3,510[27] 3rd
Carpegna Prosciutto Basket Pesaro Pesaro Vitifrigo Arena 10,323[28] 8th
EA7 Emporio Armani Milano Milan Mediolanum Forum 12,331[29] 1st
Estra Pistoia Pistoia PalaCarrara 3,916[30] Promoted to LBA
Dolomiti Energia Trento Trento BLM Group Arena 4,360[31] 6th
Germani Brescia Brescia PalaLeonessa 5,200[32] 9th
Givova Scafati Scafati PalaMangano 3,700[33] 10th
Gevi Napoli Naples PalaBarbuto 5,500[34] 12th
Happy Casa Brindisi Brindisi PalaPentassuglia 3,534[35] 7th
NutriBullet Treviso Treviso PalaVerde 5,134[36] 11th
Openjobmetis Varese Varese Enerxenia Arena 5,107[37] 13th
Umana Reyer Venezia Venice Palasport Taliercio 3,506[38] 5th
UNAHOTELS Reggio Emilia Reggio Emilia PalaBigi 4,530[39] 14th
Vanoli Cremona Cremona PalaRadi 3,519[40] Promoted to LBA
Virtus Segafredo Bologna Bologna Segafredo Arena 9,980[41] 2nd


List of champions edit


Performance by club edit

Club Winners Championship seasons[43]
Olimpia Milano 30 1935–36, 1936–37, 1937–38, 1938–39, 1949–50, 1950–51, 1951–52, 1952–53, 1953–54, 1956–57, 1957–58, 1958–59, 1959–60, 1961–62, 1962–63, 1964–65, 1965–66, 1966–67, 1971–72, 1981–82, 1984–85, 1985–86, 1986–87, 1988–89, 1995–96, 2013–14, 2015–16, 2017–18, 2021–22, 2022–23
Virtus Bologna 16 1945–46, 1946–47, 1947–48, 1948–49, 1954–55, 1955–56, 1975–76, 1978–79, 1979–80, 1983–84, 1992–93, 1993–94, 1994–95, 1997–98, 2000–01, 2020–21
Varese 10 1960–61, 1963–64, 1968–69, 1969–70, 1970–71, 1972–73, 1973–74, 1976–77, 1977–78, 1998–99
Mens Sana 1871 6 2003–04, 2006–07, 2007–08, 2008–09, 2009–10, 2010–11
Assi Milano 6 1921, 1922, 1924, 1925, 1926, 1927
(formerly Ginnastica Triestina)
5 1930, 1932, 1934, 1939–40, 1940–41
Treviso 5 1991–92, 1996–97, 2001–02, 2002–03, 2005–06
Ginnastica Roma 4 1928, 1931, 1933, 1935
Reyer Venezia 4 1941–42, 1942–43, 2016–17, 2018–19
Cantù 3 1967–68, 1974–75, 1980–81
Victoria Libertas 2 1987–88, 1989–90
Fortitudo Bologna 2 1999–00, 2004–05
SEF Costanza Milano 1 1920
Internazionale Milano 1 1923
Virtus Roma 1 1982–83
JuveCaserta 1 1990–91
Dinamo Sassari 1 2014–15

Bold indicates clubs which will play in the 2020–21 LBA season.

Italian basketball clubs in European and worldwide competitions edit

Individual awards edit

Statistical leaders edit

Lega Basket All Star Game edit

References edit

  1. ^ Virtus, secondo conflitto mondiale e dopoguerra, BasketCity
  2. ^ Le squadre che hanno scritto la storia della Serie A di basket, Basket Inside
  3. ^ Quali sono le migliori squadre della storia del Campionato di basket di Serie A?. Whilliam Hill
  4. ^ L'impero del basket. I favolosi anni '80 dell'Olimpia Milano, Alessandro Ruta
  5. ^ Le squadre più forti di sempre: il Banco di Roma campione d'Europa con Wright e Bianchini
  6. ^ Alla Virtus Granarolo lo "scudetto della stella", Biblitoeca Salaborsa
  7. ^ Basket, trent’anni fa il “miracolo” di Caserta che portò lo scudetto al Sud. Marcelletti: “Fu la vittoria degli italiani. Oggi? Quasi impossibile”, Il Fatto Quotidiano
  8. ^ Predrag Danilovic, Virtuspedia
  9. ^ Tre volte Vrtus Bologna: il grande slam del 2001, La Giornata Tipo
  10. ^ "Basket Serie A, revocati due scudetti di Siena" [Basket Serie A, Siena's two championship titles have been revoked]. (in Italian). Retrieved 10 October 2016.
  11. ^ "Federation revokes Siena titles (3)". Archived from the original on 22 March 2019. Retrieved 10 October 2016.
  12. ^ Virtus, sei magnifica! Bologna, scudetto dopo 20 anni, Milano schiacciata 4-0, Gazzetta dello Sport
  13. ^ "Il marchio Beko lascerà il basket. Il CEO Mangiacotti avrà un futuro in Lega?" [Beko is going to leave basketball. Mangiacotti (CEO of Beko) could have a future in Lega]. (in Italian). Retrieved 19 June 2016.
  14. ^ "PosteMobile nuovo sponsor Lega Basket" [PosteMobile is the new sponsor of Lega Basket]. (in Italian). Retrieved 17 December 2016.
  15. ^ "Lega Basket: non ci saranno più né Avellino né Poste Mobile" [Lega Basket: there will be no more Avellino nor Poste Mobile]. (in Italian). Retrieved 12 July 2018.
  16. ^ Lega Società di Pallacanestro Serie A, REGOLAMENTO ESECUTIVO#Chapter 3.2 (G), Page 4 Archived 11 February 2017 at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ "Consiglio FIP sugli impianti per i playoff: dal 2017-2018 non meno di 5.000 posti" [FIP Board on the arenas for the playoffs: from 2017-2018 no less than 5,000 seats]. (in Italian). Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  18. ^ "Serie A, dal prossimo anno i Cotonou saranno considerati comunitari" [Serie A, from the next year the Cotonou players will be considered as Europeans]. (in Italian). Retrieved 26 June 2012.
  19. ^ "Premio italiani a quota 700.000 euro" [Italian prize will be of 700,000 Euros]. (in Italian). Retrieved 11 October 2014.
  20. ^ "Italian teams withdraw from Eurocup!". 8 July 2016. Retrieved 21 July 2016.
  21. ^ "Italian teams to compete in EuroCup again from next season". Retrieved 13 March 2017.
  22. ^ "Italian Serie A Clubs will be free to choose in which European Cup they want to play next season". Retrieved 20 March 2017.
  23. ^ "Italian League assembly approves sale of TV rights". 13 July 2017. Retrieved 13 July 2017.
  24. ^ "Ad Eurosport il pacchetto PAY di Serie A, Supercoppa e Coppa Italia. Il GM di Discovery: Gran colpo" [Eurosport has pay TV rights for Serie A, Supercoppa and Coppa Italia. GM of Discovery Channel: Great hit]. (in Italian). 12 July 2017. Retrieved 13 July 2017.
  25. ^ "Egidio Bianchi: svolta epocale per la LBA. Tutte le gare saranno trasmesse live su Internet" [Egidio Bianchi: Epoch-making for the LBA. All competitions will be broadcast live on Internet]. (in Italian). 13 July 2017. Retrieved 13 July 2017.
  26. ^ Banco di Sardegna Sassari (in Italian)
  27. ^ Bertram Yachts Derthona Basket
  28. ^ Carpegna Prosciutto Pesaro (in Italian)
  29. ^ EA7 Emporio Armani Milano (in Italian)
  30. ^ Estra Pistoia (in Italian)
  31. ^ Dolomiti Energia Trento (in Italian)
  32. ^ Germani Brescia (in Italian)
  33. ^ Givova Scafati (in Italian)
  34. ^ GeVi Napoli (in Italian)
  35. ^ Happy Casa Brindisi (in Italian)
  36. ^ NutriBullet Treviso Basket
  37. ^ Openjobmetis Varese (in Italian)
  38. ^ Umana Reyer Venezia (in Italian)
  39. ^ UNAHOTELS Reggio Emilia (in Italian)
  40. ^ Vanoli Cremona (in Italian)
  41. ^ Virtus Segafredo Bologna
  42. ^
  43. ^ a b "Gli Albi D'oro". Classifiche (in Italian). Archived from the original on 28 June 2018. Retrieved 13 June 2017.
  44. ^ a b Following an investigation for accounting and fiscal fraud, the Italian Basketball Federation revoked all the domestic titles won by the club during the 2011–12 and 2012–13 seasons.

External links edit