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The years 1986-1991

The years 1986-1991

We are mid-eighties, in the midst of the historic rivalry between the Lakers and Celtics, between Hollywood showtime and the pride of the sons of the Irish. Dan Peterson, historic coach of that Simac Milano which won two consecutive Champions Cups, uses private broadcasters to make us see a basketball that seems light years away and which is instead getting ever closer if it is true that people like Bob McAdoo and George Gervin decides to end his career on our parquets.
It's an Derthona new generation, there is Roberto Gabatelli behind the desk but not only because the "Gaba" is the backbone of the whole movement and with him on the pitch come the terrible boys who have depopulated at youth level: they are the Tava, the Barabino, the Rovere , the Tasca and to coach them he can only be the master of all time. For Caenazzo, Armana also means a radical change in philosophy and we move from a run-and-shoot style of basketball to the slower-paced passing game of Mario. The attention to detail, the imprint of defensive organization, the first videotapes, the obsessive knowledge of the opponent's characteristics: the Professor's coaching is a leap into the future and in Tortona the disappointment for the bad year lasts for the space of a morning if it is true that in 1986 promotion to B2 came close after an exciting championship. Barberis and Piscedda are the foreigners, De Ros, Cermelli and Lonardo are the pillars who surrender only to the Astense of Arucci and Frediani.

In times of great combinations between companies and sports clubs, we are a white fly, we play with "empty" shirts but our weakness becomes our strength. President Ghisolfi plays the card of a pool of sponsors, many entities that contribute to the common project and growing enthusiasm is generated: the stands erected for the Derthona-Carpi evening remain in place and always seem too small because the lions play every Sunday six of us, driven by the noise and heat of Camagna.
Sunday afternoons at the Palazzetto become a must, to see Gibertini, Pollicardo, Celenza pushing our ship for three consecutive voyages one step away from the coveted port of Serie B. Giovanni Lonardo is our Charles Barkley, he has physical impact, technical skills and he lives his good years playing as an atypical second long man next to old-fashioned pivots but he is not the only one from Tortona to give us joy because Dino Canegallo's girls don't lose for a straight year and deserve nine-column titles. Sara Orsi, Roberta Greggio, Antonella Gazzaniga, Manuela Franzin: another group, another sex, but always Tortona docet and we are at 1989, to the year in which the scudetto went to Milan in the fiery finale in Livorno, with Forti's shot half a second before or half a second after the fateful siren.
Just one year is enough to admire Fabrizio Brakus, a Slav by origin and Piedmontese by adoption who delights us in 1989-90: he is a luxury five-star shooter, the first great long-range shooter known in Tortona and sixth place in a group without Ligurians but with the Tuscans he is anything but bad. In our local newspapers, a certain Vacirca Gianmaria, from Isola Sant'Antonio, tells us basketball facts, who perhaps has never made a basket but seems to be keen on it, has a black and white heart and they say he could reach the top...

The decade is changing, for basketball it is the year of the centenary, for us the year in which the Federation turns its back on us. We end up in the Umbrian-Tuscan area and the anecdotes with the early morning bus departures, the dawn returns, the red light films, the card games and the tales of Mancio are not enough to give us salvation. It is the moment in which the new recruits are enlisted from Borasi to Lattuada passing through the Arbasino-Canegallo duo, or rather “Arba&Canè” as if it were a single word. President is Beppe Tava, a man who is not with us today but who helped us to be there.

Texts taken from the book “HEART OF A LION: fifty years of basketball in Tortona” by Roberto Gabatelli – 2008