May 10, 2021

Basketball. Drazen Petrovic’s biggest exhibition with Real Madrid turns 31 today

It was in the 1989 Recopa final against Snaidero when he scored 62 points

March 14, 1989, Athens. The Spanish Radio Television special envoy to end of the Recopa of Europe between the Real Madrid and the Caserta Snaidero meets the white team players in the vicinity of the Parthenon. Yes, the same morning as the game. Ask Drazen Petrovic, the great star of the team: “Drazen, have you seen the Parthenon?”. Croatian’s reply: “The Parthenon is this afternoon at the Palace”. Hours later, Sibenik’s genius starred in the largest solo exhibition in history in a European final. Today marks 31 years of the 62 points that Petrovic scored in a legendary match.

The before, during and after that final made that performance even bigger. That Real Madrid had already won the Copa del Rey, it came with a full victory against Barça and with Petrovic scoring almost 30 points per game. The final went further. And that the party started with Drazen covered. Johnny Rogers and José Biriukov were the first to lead the scoring festival. The forward of American origin and then Spanish national, the one who called his coach “Loulou”, scored his first six pitches without failure. The Russian-born escort did so with his first three triples. The Balkan took time to appear, but when he did … At halftime he had already scored 26 points. The scoreboard reflected a scandalous 60-57 in a time of 20 minutes, no quarter.

The show continued in the second part. Drazen scored another 25 points, although he was about to spoil everything with a loss eight seconds from the end that left the Italians a possession to win the final. A lack of Biriukov, which he himself recognized, but out of time allowed Madrid to reach extra time (102-102). With Rogers and Biriukov eliminated; with Fernando Martín playing with a broken thumb as it became known later … There Drazen added eleven points more, the same as all the Italian team. The numbers in the final were a scandal. Petrovic scored 62 points in 45 minutes. He did not rest for a second. He made 12/14 on shots of two; 8/16 on triples and 14/16 on free throws. To that fool they responded Oscar Schmidt Bezerra with 44 points in 42 minutes Y Ferdinando Gentile – the father of the former Estudiantes player – with 34 in 42 minutes.

Madrid lifted the title, but most of the staff didn’t celebrate it as their own. The last straw for the hard core of Spanish players was in the plane back to Madrid with the title. With all the staff pinched, the president Ramón Mendoza called Drazen to the front of the plane to toast with him and the trophy. It was what was missing. Lolo Sainz had to spend the rest of the season trying to tame runaway egos. The coach tried to blame himself for Petrovic’s performance. “I told him at the break that he was here because Madrid needed titles and that I was delighted that he gave out assists, but we needed him to be somewhat more selfish and score points,” confessed “Loulou”, as Rogers called him. Some comrade like Romay has recognized that “That was not the victory of a team, it was the victory of a player”. The squad saw it as one of the last arguments the Croatian offered to convince the Portland Trail Blazers to land in the NBA. So it was. The following season her home was in Oregon.


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