As Rome's football team, Roma, flirts with a trip to Serie B, its upstart basketball squad is racing toward the Legabasket championships. Lottomatica Roma defeated defending Italian league champion Montepaschi Siena in four games mid May, and is set to tip off against powerhouse Climamio Bologna on 26 May in the Legabasket semi-finals.
Sixth-seed Roma muscled past the third-seeded Siena in a truly international effort, with American guards Tyus Edney and David Hawkins, Italian forward Alex Righetti, Slovenian forward Marko Tusek and Australian center Wade Helliwell leading the way.
During timeouts, Serbian head coach Svetislav Pesic diagramed plays with a combination of English, Spanish and Italian, often in the same sentence. But apparently he was getting his message across as his diverse squad has been catching fire of late, dispatching heavily-favored Siena with evident ease.
In the deciding game held at PaloLottomatica in Rome's EUR on 20 May,
it was the raucous ultra fans that played the biggest part. Their relentless heckling of anyone wearing Siena greenon or off the courtfueled the modest arena with an energy that no open-air football stadium could hold. While Rome's fans banged drums and chanted in the final seconds, armed guards escorted the shirtless and dejected Siena fans from the building. No flares or motor scooters were thrown, but Siena was hurt, nonetheless.
Tickets for the upcoming Bologna series are on sale now. Rome travels to Bologna for game one. Game two is scheduled for 29 May at PaloLottomatica.