|Virtus Pallacanestro Bologna|
|Nickname||Vu Nere (Black V)|
|Team colors||White, black|
|Main sponsor||Segafredo Zanetti|
|Head coach||Aleksandar ?or?evi?|
|Team captain||Filippo Baldi Rossi|
|Championships||15 Italian Championships|
8 Italian Cups
1 Saporta Cup
1 Champions League
1 Italian Supercup
1 Italian LNP Cup
1 Serie A2 Basket
|Retired numbers||3 (4, 5, 10)|
Virtus Pallacanestro Bologna, known for sponsorship reasons as Segafredo Virtus Bologna, is an Italian professional basketball club based in Bologna, Emilia-Romagna. The club was founded in 1929, which makes it the oldest club in Italy and one of the oldest one in Europe. Virtus is the second most titled basketball club in Italy after Olimpia Milano, having won 15 Italian national championships, 8 Italian National Cups and 1 Italian Supercup. Moreover, it is one of the most successful teams in Europe, having won two EuroLeagues, one FIBA Saporta Cup and one Basketball Champions League. It currently plays in the Italian first division LBA as well as in the EuroCup.
Some of the club's star players over the years have included: Renato Villalta, Jim McMillian, Kre?imir ?osi?, Micheal Ray Richardson, Roberto Brunamonti, Jure Zdovc, Predrag Danilovi?, Arijan Komazec, Orlando Woolridge, Zoran Savi?, Bane Prelevi?, Radoslav Nesterovi?, Antoine Rigaudeau, Marko Jari?, Manu Ginóbili, Matja? Smodi? and Milo? Teodosi?.
Virtus was founded in 1871 as a gymnastics club, forming its first professional basketball team in 1929 as part of a multi sports club. The team's home court was the former church of Santa Lucia in the city center. The first official championship of Virtus dates back to 1934, the year in which the Bolognese team won the first division tournament, obtaining the promotion in the top tournament after a hard-fought group of play-offs against Unione Sportiva of Milan and Ginnastica Rome. After the promotion, Virtus settled permanently at the top of the national basketball league, and achieved a long series of honorable placings: in the nine championships disputed from 1935 to the outbreak of the Second World War, the Black V collected 6 second places, 2 third places and a sixth place.
At the end of the world war, the Santa Lucia was no longer available for basketball games and after a brief period of outdoor matches on a field in Via del Ravone, the team moved to Sala Borsa, the city's stock exchange, readjusted in the evening for basketball matches. This unusual venue became the hallmark of a new Italian basketball season, compared to the worldwide famous Boston Garden. Right here in 1945, Virtus, led by Achille Canna, Luigi Rapini and Antonio Calebotta, won its first national Serie A title, adding the next three editions as well. The Black V won the national title again in 1955 and 1956, achieving a so-called "back-to-back". During the 1950s the long-time rivalry with Olimpia Milano began, as also the first derbies with Gira and Moto Morini.
Due to the increasingly fame of Virtus, the Sala Borsa was no longer suitable for hosting games; so in 1956, the long-time Mayor of Bologna, Giuseppe Dozza, inaugurated a new arena, which was simply known as "Sports Hall" and had a seating capacity of more than 7,000 people. The arena was later nicknamed Il Madison, after New York's Madison Square Garden and, in 1966, after Dozza's retirement from politics, it was renamed "PalaDozza".
The 1960s had been an unfortunate decade for Virtus. The Bolognese team did not win any national title and the Italian basketball was dominated by its historic rivals, Simmenthal Milano and Ignis Varese. The turning point came from 1968, when the lawyer Gianluigi Porelli was appointed by the then president of the multi-sport club, Elkan, at the head of the basketball section. Alternately nicknamed "Torquemada" or "Robespierre" for his quick and often dictatorial methods, or, more frequently, L'Avvocato ("The Lawyer"), Porelli has been one of the most prominent figures in the history of Virtus, which through initiatives often unpopular but almost always winning, definitively ferried towards professionalism.
As soon as he arrived, at only 38 years old, Porelli cleaned up the old managers and sold the best player of the time, Gianfranco Lombardi, unleashing a popular uprising that even ended up in court. Soon after, in 1970, thanks to Porelli, Virtus was also one of the main proponents and founders of the Lega Basket, the governing body of the top-tier level professional Italian basketball league. In the same year, Virtus broke away from the multi sports club and became a joint-stock company. Thanks to this choice, which was highly criticized, Porelli definitively healed the finances and in 1973 opened a new season of triumphs, thanks to a partnership with Sinudyne, a famous Italian domestic appliances company, and especially with the engagement of the young American coach Dan Peterson, coming from the Chile's national basketball team. Virtus immediately won its first Italian Cup in 1973/74 and, after two years, its seventh national championship, thanks to the leadership of players like Terry Driscoll, Carlo Caglieris, Gianni Bertolotti, Marco Bonamico and Luigi Serafini. In 1978 coach Peterson moved to Olimpia Milano and the former player Terry Driscoll was appointed new head coach. Under him, Virtus won two consecutive national titles in 1979 and 1980. The most important players of that back-to-back were Renato Villalta, Jim McMillian, and Kre?imir ?osi?.
Returning to the top in Italy, the Black V attempted to become a major team in Europe too, and in 1981 they reached the final of the FIBA European Champions Cup in Strasbourg. However they lost by only one point against Maccabi Tel Aviv, after a very contested game and dubious referees' choices. After the defeat in the Cup, Porelli hired coach Aleksandar Nikoli?, worldwide known as "The Professor". The team was composed also by young and talented Italians like Roberto Brunamonti and Augusto Binelli. Despite his fame, Nikoli? did not succeed in bringing Virtus back to title, so in 1983, the 35 years-old Alberto Bucci, from Bologna, became the new head coach. Under Bucci, Virtus won its tenth national championship, defeating Peterson's Olimpia in a historic final, always remembered as one of the best in Italian basketball history. In the same year, the team completed a domestic double by adding a National Cup.
In 1988, Porelli hired Bob Hill, who was New York Knicks' head coach until the previous season. Hill brought in Italy two former NBA players: Micheal Ray Richardson, a NBA All-Star and former player for NY Knicks and New Jersey Nets, who was banned from the NBA for violations of the league's drug policy, and Clemon Johnson, 1983 NBA champion with the Philadelphia 76ers, who notable played also for Indiana Pacers and Seattle SuperSonics. In 1988/89 Virtus won its third Italian Cup but it was defeated in the semi-final for the national championship.
In the following summer, Hill resigned from his post, and his assistant, the 30 years-old Ettore Messina, was appointed new head coach. The Black V won the Italian Cup again and on 13 March 1990 won its first European title, the FIBA European Cup Winners' Cup, the second-tier level European-wide competition, defeating the Real Madrid coached by George Karl. The final was characterized by an outstanding performance of Richardson, able of scoring 29 points.
In 1991, Alfredo Cazzola, a local trade fair entrepreneur, became the new president of Virtus. After two consecutive defeats in national semi-finals, Cazzola signed Predrag Danilovi?, a young Yugoslav player who won the latest Champions Cup with Partizan. Under the strong leadership of Danilovi?, the team immediately won another national championship with Ettore Messina as head coach. In the following year, Messina became the new coach of Italy's national basketball team and Alberto Bucci, returned to coach Virtus, with whom he had won a national championship in 1984. Virtus won the scudetto again in 1994 and 1995, accomplishing a three-peat. In the same years, the team took part in the McDonald's Championship, an international cup competition between NBA and European teams, where Virtus was slightly defeated by Phoenix Suns and Houston Rockets.
After the three-peat, Danilovi? left Virtus for the Miami Heat and without its Yugoslav leader, the Bolognese team won only an Italian Supercup for 1995/96 and its fifth Italian Cup in the following year. In 1996 Kinder, a product brand line of Italian confectionery multinational Ferrero SpA, became the new sponsor of Virtus, while in 1997, the team moved to PalaMalaguti, an indoor sporting arena in Casalecchio di Reno with a seating capacity of more than 8,000 people, leaving PalaDozza after almost 40 years. In the same year, with the return of Messina and Danilovi?, the team was completed with important international players like Zoran Savi?, Radoslav Nesterovi?, Antoine Rigaudeau, Hugo Sconochini, Alessandro Frosini and Alessandro Abbio. On 23 April 1998, Virtus won its first EuroLeague, defeating AEK in Barcelona. While on 31 May, Virtus conquered its 14th national title, defeating in Game 5 of the final, Teamsystem Bologna. At twenty seconds from the end of the game, with Fortitudo leading by 4, Danilovi? scored a three-points shot and at the same time suffered a foul by Dominique Wilkins, completing the so-called "four-point shot". Than Virtus would won the match in the over time. The 1998 final between Virtus and Fortiudo is widely considered as the greatest one in the history of Italian basketball, with two teams from the same city, which were among the best ones in the continent. During this period, Bologna was nicknamed "Basket City", due to the fame and the wins of town's two teams.
In the following season, Virtus won its 7th Italian Cup but lost in the EuroLeague final against ?algiris of Tyus Edney and was eliminated in the semi-finals for the national championship. Despite this defeat, under Cazzola's presidency and thanks to the leaderships of Danilovi? and coach Messina, the 1990s were considered the "Golden Age" of Virtus, which collected four national titles, two Italian Cups, a Cup Winners' Cup and a EuroLeague, becoming one the most notable and successful team in Europe.
In 2000, Marco Madrigali, a video game entrepreneur, became the new president of the club. New players, like Marko Jari?, Manu Ginóbili, Matja? Smodi?, Rashard Griffith and David Andersen arrived in Bologna; while at the beginning of the season, Sasha Danilovi? suddenly announced his retirement from basketball. The absence of a strong leader like Danilovi? and the subsequent ban for doping of another historic player like Hugo Sconochini, forced every single player of the team to take more responsibility, but at the same time opened spaces to the immature and talented newcomers, free to show their abilities and experience at a high level. After a though beginning, the season had a turning point during the Christmas derby against Fortitudo, which was soundly won by the Balck V by 99-62. From then, Virtus started an outstanding season, characterized by an unrepeatable group capable of beating every record and becoming one of the strongest European teams of all time and, according to many, the strongest ever. After the double in 1998, in 2000/01 season, Virtus completed a Triple Crown (known in Italy as Grande Slam), winning the Italian Cup, the EuroLeague against Tau Cerámica and the national title, beating Paf Wennington Bologna 3-0. Manu Ginóbili was named the 2001 Euroleague Finals MVP and Italian League MVP.
On the following year, Virtus won the Italian Cup, but after some defeats Madrigali fired Messina. However, after a peaceful field invasion by Virtus supporters before a match against Pallacanestro Trieste, Madrigali was forced to re-hire him. Despite this, the team lost the EuroLeague final, which was held in PalaMalaguti, against Panathinaikos of Dejan Bodiroga, and was eliminated in the semi-finals for the national championship by the Benetton Treviso.
In 2003, Ginóbili moved to the NBA, where he played for the San Antonio Spurs, and Ettore Messina was hired by Benetton, thus Bogdan Tanjevi? was appointed new head coach. After a soundly defeat in Fabriano, Tanjevi? was replaced by Valerio Bianchini, who failed in reaching the playoffs for the first time in Virtus history but succeeded in saving the team from relegation. However, suffering from serious financial problems, mainly caused by the failure of Madrigali's video game company CTO SpA, Virtus was excluded from the Serie A in August 2003, after missing payments to players, first of all the young Slovenian Sani Be?irovi?. The bankruptcy was avoided thanks to the intervention of a local trade fair entrepreneur, Claudio Sabatini, who transacted all the debts of the club, after agreements with creditors and took over the company from Madrigali. Sabatini acquired also the team Progresso Castelmaggiore, from a small town in Bologna's hinterland, which played in Serie A2 and sponsored the new team with FuturVirtus brand, guaranteeing therefore the continuity of the glorious name "Virtus" despite the exclusion from the championships. In 2003/04, FuturVirtus did not reach the promotion in Serie A, losing 3-0 in the final series of playoffs from Aurora Jesi. However, during the summer 2004 the club obtained the re-affiliation to the Italian Basketball Federation and the right to use the name "Virtus Pallacanestro" again. The Black V, led by Corey Brewer and A.J. Guyton, returned to the top division in 2004, defeating 3-0 the Premiata Montegranaro.
After two years, in 2006-07 season, Virtus, led by Travis Best and coach Zare Markovski, reached the Italian Cup final, losing against Benetton Treviso, qualified for the playoffs after a five-year absence, and reached the championship finals, being defeated 3-0 by Montepaschi Siena. The Black V reached the EuroCup semifinals, where it was defeated by the Ukrainian team Azovmash Mariupol. In the following year, the team was suddenly reshaped and Markovski was fired by Sabatini, whose presidency was characterized by his fickle nature, which led him implementing unexpected and often unpopular choices. Virtus participated in the EuroLeague, but arrived last in the Group A, winning only two games out of 14. In 2009 the team was completely renewed with prominent players like the former NBA player Earl Boykins, Keith Langford, Sharrod Ford and Du?an Vuk?evi?. Under the coaching of Matteo Boniciolli, the Black V added another trophy to their showcase, with the European third tier EuroChallenge, with 21 points from Finals MVP Keith Langford in the final against Cholet Basket. However the team lost the Italian Cup final against Siena and was eliminated in the first round of national playoff by Treviso. Boniciolli was immediately fired by president Sabatini and the team was reshaped again during summer.
In July 2010, Sabatini sold Virtus to a foundation of local entrepreneurs, however he remained as CEO and de facto general manager. After years of poor successes, Sabatini definitively exited from the club and in 2013, Renato Villalta, a former Virtus star, was appointed president. In 2014, Virtus returned to the playoffs, thanks to an outstanding season of his top-scorers Allan Ray, Jeremy Hazell and Okaro White. In the following year Villalta was abruptly removed from his post and Bertolini was appointed president by the foundation. After few months, Bertolini was replaced too by Alberto Bucci, the former Virtus coach, who won three national titles with the Black V between 1980s and 1990s. However, the season was characterized by a serious injury to team captain, Allan Ray, and the substitute players signed by the club failed to adequately replace the injured top-player. On 4 May 2016, at the end of the regular season the team ranked 16th and last, therefore it was relegated to Serie A2 Basket for the first time in its history.
In the summer, president Bucci announced Alessandro Ramagli, as new head coach of Virtus. The club built a good team for the league, led by important players such as Guido Rosselli, Klaudio Ndoja, Michael Umeh and Kenny Lawson. During the season there was also a big change in ownership: the coffee entrepreneur and former politician, Massimo Zanetti, owner of Segafredo, who was also team's sponsor, became a majority shareholder of the club. Virtus ended second in the regular season behind Treviso and on 19 June 2017 won the playoffs, beating Trieste by 3-0, thus returning to the top series after only one year. During the play-offs the Black V returned after more than twenty years to Bologna's historic arena, PalaDozza, which became the new official home court in the following season.
In summer 2017, the club signed two of the most prominent Italian players, Pietro Aradori and Alessandro Gentile, as well as two international players like Marcus Slaughter and Oliver Lafayette. Despite good premises, the team was eliminated in the first round of Italian Cup's Final Eight and failed to qualify for the championship playoffs. The 2018/19 season began with the appointment of Alessandro Dalla Salda as new club's CEO and the hire of Stefano Sacripanti as new head coach. Aradori and Filippo Baldi Rossi were confirmed and the club signed, among others, Tony Taylor, Kevin Punter, Amath M'Baye and Brian Qvale, to participate in the Basketball Champions League, which was Virtus's first European competition after ten years. The team reached a record of seven wins in the first seven games of the continental competition, which had never been achieved before. In March 2019, the team signed Mario Chalmers, two-time NBA Champion with the Miami Heat. On 9 March, president Alberto Bucci died at 70 years old, due to complications from a cancer. On 11 March, after a defeat against Cantù and with Virtus temporarily out of play-offs, the team board sacked Sacripanti and appointed the Serbian Aleksandar ?or?evi? as new had coach. On 4 April, the Black V defeated Nanterre 92, reaching the BCL Final Four in Antwerp, which won on 5 May defeating Iberostar Tenerife 73-61, thanks to an outstanding game by Kevin Punter, who was nominated Final Four MVP. The BCL was the fifth European title in team's history and the first one after ten years.
In July 2019, Virtus opened its women's basketball wing, which will participate in the next Serie A1 championship. In the same month, Giuseppe Sermasi, a local entrepreneur and former vice president, became Virtus new president, holding the vacant post after Bucci's death, while Luca Baraldi, a prominent manager of Segafredo, was appointed new CEO.
On 13 July, Virtus signed a three-year deal with Milo? Teodosi?, 2016 EuroLeague champion and former NBA player, who was widely considered one of the best European point guard of all time. Among others, the team signed also Vince Hunter, Frank Gaines, Kyle Weems, Julian Gamble, Stefan Markovi? and Giampaolo Ricci. In the 2019-20 season, Virtus played some home games, including the derby against Fortitudo won 94-62, at the Virtus Arena, a temporary indoor arena with a capacity of nearly 9,000 seats, located in the Fiera District.
Since its foundation, Virtus Bologna has changed several home arenas. Each of them was more than just a basketball court, rather a real "house" of the Black V, marking, in the period when they were used, a different era of the long history of society:
|Season||Tier||League||Pos.||W-L||Italian Cup||Other competitions||European competitions|
|1960-61||1||Elite||2nd||1 Champions Cup|
|1968-69||1||Serie A||3rd||Top 16|
|1970-71||1||Serie A||10th||Top 16|
|1974-75||1||Serie A1||4th||2 Cup Winners' Cup|
|1975-76||1||Serie A1||1st||3 Kora? Cup|
|1976-77||1||Serie A1||2nd||1 Champions Cup|
|1977-78||1||Serie A1||2nd||2 Cup Winners' Cup|
|1978-79||1||Serie A1||1st||2 Cup Winners' Cup|
|1979-80||1||Serie A1||1st||1 Champions Cup|
|1980-81||1||Serie A1||2nd||1 Champions Cup|
|1981-82||1||Serie A1||4th||2 Cup Winners' Cup|
|1984-85||1||Serie A1||7th||Quarterfinalist||1 Champions Cup|
|1987-88||1||Serie A1||9th||Top 16||3 Kora? Cup|
|1989-90||1||Serie A1||5th||Champion||2 Cup Winner's Cup|
|1990-91||1||Serie A1||3rd||Quarterfinalist||2 Cup Winner's Cup|
|1991-92||1||Serie A1||4th||Semifinalist||1 EuroLeague|
|1992-93||1||Serie A1||1st||Runners-up||1 EuroLeague|
|1993-94||1||Serie A1||1st||Semifinalist||1 EuroLeague|
|1994-95||1||Serie A1||1st||Quarterfinalist||1 EuroLeague|
|1995-96||1||Serie A1||3rd||Semifinalist||Supercup||1 EuroLeague|
|1996-97||1||Serie A1||3rd||Champion||1 EuroLeague|
|1997-98||1||Serie A1||1st||Semifinalist||Supercup||1 EuroLeague|
|1998-99||1||Serie A1||3rd||Champion||Supercup||1 EuroLeague|
|1999-00||1||Serie A1||3rd||Runners-up||Supercup||2 Saporta Cup|
|2000-01||1||Serie A1||1st||Champion||Supercup||1 EuroLeague|
|2001-02||1||Serie A||3rd||Champion||Supercup||1 EuroLeague|
|2002-03||1||Serie A||14th||Supercup||1 EuroLeague|
|2003-04||2||Serie A2||3rd||2 ULEB Cup|
|2006-07||1||Serie A||2nd||Runners-up||3 FIBA EuroCup|
|2007-08||1||Serie A||15th||Runners-up||1 EuroLeague|
|2008-09||1||Serie A||5th||Runners-up||3 EuroChallenge|
|2016-17||2||Serie A2||1st||LNP Cup|
|2018-19||1||LBA||11th||Semifinalist||3 Champions League|
1989-90 FIBA European Cup Winner's Cup
1997-98 FIBA Euroleague
Note: Flags indicate national team eligibility at FIBA sanctioned events. Players may hold other non-FIBA nationality not displayed.
|Pos.||Starting 5||Bench 1||Bench 2||Bench 3|
|C||Julian Gamble||Vince Hunter||Marcos Delía|
|PF||Giampaolo Ricci||Filippo Baldi Rossi||Mait Peterson|
|SF||Kyle Weems||Devyn Marble||Stefan Nikoli?|
|SG||Milo? Teodosi?||Frank Gaines||Manuele Solaroli|
|PG||Stefan Markovi?||David Cournooh||Alessandro Pajola||Lorenzo Deri|
6+6 format (colours: Italian or homegrown players; foreign players; young players)
|Virtus Bologna retired numbers|
Note: Flags indicate national team eligibility at FIBA sanctioned events. Players may hold other non-FIBA nationality not displayed.
To appear in this section a player must have either:
Throughout the years, due to sponsorship, the club has been known as :