Italian cup basketball, Peterson: semifinals in balance. Milan beats Virtus on the last rebound

Hines will be the decisive man, Tortona will come close to the feat and Varese will also fight on an equal footing

All in four days! Here’s the difference between the Coppa Italia and any other event: either you win or you go home, and even if you win, you’re always in trouble, always struggling with energy, mental resources and the fatigue that accumulates. In Serie A you play in 7-8 months. Here in 5 days. In the playoffs, you play every other day. Here, every day. My “friends” (term to be verified!) of the Gazzetta ask me to make my usual predictions. Who knows the laughter they make when, as often happens to me, everything goes against my expectations! It does not matter. Of course, Milan and Virtus Bologna are the favourites. Great clubs, great coaches, great champions. But all this is not worth a damn in a tournament. So I don’t exclude surprises.

Ettore Messina, who knows something of the importance of a great point guard (Brunamonti, Rigaudeau, Papaloukas), has found Shabazz Napier, bad news for Brescia which this year found itself without the go-to-guy Mitrou-Long passed to Milan.

Varese-Pesaro 78-71

Varese that runs, that takes away energy, will have fresh legs. Pesaro, however, plays with great determination, and will have the legendary veteran Carlos Delfino ready to enter and spoil the party.

Virtus-Venice 81-76

Well rested, the veteran-killers of Virtus, Milos Teodosic and Marco Belinelli, will do damage, while the youngsters, like Alessandro Paiola, will do a valuable dirty job in defense for coach Sergio Scariolo. Venice, fresh from an excellent victory under new coach Neven Spahija, is the loose cannon of the tournament.

Tortona-Trento 71-65

Tortona, the team that no one wants to meet, wins with the defense that specializes in steals, fouling everyone’s game, and has a killer in attack with JP Macura, if he doesn’t have physical problems.

Playing at 600 an hour without a day off will be a problem for Varese. Milan, on the other hand, will be able to take advantage of the long roster, which has a handyman in Stefano Tonut, a totem-pillar in Nicolò Melli and a sharpshooter in Gigi Datome, not to mention the defensive wall: Kyle Hines.

Virtus-Tortona 82-81

After an overtime. Tortona is the “black beast” of Virtus. But veterans Kyle Weems and Teodosic will lead the comeback that takes Virtus to the final with a great expenditure of energy.

Three games in 4 days for Virtus; 3 in 5 for Milan! There is no longer the energy of the first days. So wide defenses and room for shooters, Billy Baron above all, Milan undermines Bologna’s defense-rebus. Virtus must hope that the veterans (Teo and Beli) will still have quality minutes in their legs. The bottom 5 above everything. Decides who gets the last rebound. It will be Hines. Logical: he is a champion.