Bad news from Italy.
Much worse than that from France (Pau Orthez) or Germany (Giessen).
Fortitudo Bologna has gone down to Legadue.
It seems incredible, but such is the unhappy end to a desperate season, only the tip of the iceberg from an era characterized by a slow descent since “Emir” Giorgio Seragnoli left the club in 2006.
First came disastrous management by Michele Martinelli, the man famous for his never-kept promises and his remarks against existing rules. This was followed by the much-desired return of a Bolognese owner, one Gilberto Sacrati whose primary occupation seems to be … oh, the building trade.
Because between summer acquisitions that made fans scream “Hey, we are championship contenders again!” and unexpected departures from within the staff (GM Diego Pastori, Andrea Mazzon), the suspicion that Sacrati is utterly unable to handle a basketball club is taking root. Especially when some uncontrollable voice comes out about missed payments and the strange story of Cesare Pancotto, the new (interim?) coach who, according to one source, was forced to stay in hotel during his first two months in Bologna because of Fortitudo’s problems in finding a house.
True or false, too many unclear situations exist for a team demanding the giant multi-purpose “Parco delle Stelle” arena via expensive state funds, to either give one of the most exciting crowds in Europe a larger arena, or – scandal! – to equip Dino Meneghin with a building he would be satisfied in during his qualification race to 2014 FIBA World Championship. But what’s Sacrati’s job? Right, he’s the building contractor.
Last but not least, there’s the game on the court. And the game says a GM fired from an elite team like Barcelona arranged a group full of talent (Qyntel Woods, Joseph Forte, Marcelinho Huertas, Uros Slokar, etc.) that NOBODY trusts due to its selfishness, the presence of too many me-first players, and general tactical-technical incompatibility. Barron remained unseen; Woods and Forte were waived, with common wisdom suggesting was a move to free up space for Malaventura and Lamma, rather than to welcome a ball-eater like D.J. Strawberry, an injured Alex Scales, a right man in the wrong place like Lazaros Papadopoulos.
And Huertas? Was Fortitudo really the ideal team for the 2007/2008 ACB best playmaker? The result was simple: Ten victories in a year; a horrible way of play (isolations, isolations, isolations); and finally near-ridiculous protests against potential relegation.
What remains? The hope may be to see Rieti go bankrupt in addition to the probable exit of Sacrati, once never too loved, now extremely hated. His “Parco delle Stelle,” his statements about the immediate return into Euroleague … it all needs to go.
Surely to vanish is Stefano Mancinelli, the club’s flagship player, directly to Montepaschi Siena, especially if the Legadue relegation is confirmed. At that point, there’ll be only photos and videos keeping the myth of “Baron” Schull, Alibegovic, Gay, Basile and Fucka alive while waiting for a new magician to take over the club. While we pray compassion drives Seragnoli to persuade him into rebuying “his own” team.
But Fortitudo may yet become a Redeem Team. Maybe a year spent between Sassari and Venezia, Rimini and Pavia, is what Fortitudo needs. The example of Varese is still fresh.
Never give up, Fossa dei Leoni. Bologna – Basketball City – won’t accept a Fortitudo exiled to the second league. The winner of two Italian League titles (2000, 2005) and six consecutive finals appearances, will soon rise again.
written by Francesco Cappelletti