ROME -- Alex English scored 24 points and Walter Davis added 23 to power the NBA's Denver Nuggets to a 137-103 rout of Spanish League champion Barcelona Friday night in the opening round of the third annual McDonald's Open.
European champion Jugoplastika Split rallied to defeat Italian League champion Philips Milan 102-97 and will meet in Denver in Sunday's final.
No NBA team has lost a game in the tournament's brief history and the Nuggets made sure that they wouldn't be the first, dominating the opening minutes at the Palaeur Arena to take a 37-24 lead at the end of the first quarter.
A combination of NBA and international rules are being used in the tournament and the Nuggets had no problems exploiting Barcelona's zone defense and raced to a 69-40 halftime lead. Zone defenses are illegal in the NBA.
The Nuggets margin of victory was the largest in the tournament's history, eclipsing the Boston Celtics' 113-85 victory over the Yugoslavian national team last year.
'I had a lot of open shots,' English said. 'When you face a zone defense like this, that's the kind of score you can get.'
Forward Andres Jimenez led Barcelona with 20 points. Javier Crespo had 19 and American Paul Thompson and Audie Norris added 18 each.
Denver Coach Doug Moe said that Barcelona, missing playmaker Epi who is still recovering from tendon surgery, wasn't a match for his club.
'They were exhausted and just gave up,' Moe said. 'But Yugoplastika is a very good team, It will be another story for us on Sunday.'
Former NBA All-Star Bob McAdoo showed that he can still score even at age 38, racking up 44 points for Milan in a losing effort. McAdoo scored 25 of Milan's 48 first-half points.
Toni Kukoc led Jugosplastik with 31 points and Dusko Ivanovic had 21. Dino Radja, who will join the Celtics next season added 19.
NBA Commissioner David Stern and Boris Stankovic of Yugoslavia, head of the International basketball Federation (FIBA) were in attendance.
Stern said his league, has no immediate intention of expanding into Europe despite the growing stature of the game overseas.
'Anything can happen, but our goal is to continue working with FIBA,' Stern said. 'There are no plans for NBA expansion in Europe. We are enjoying the relationships that we have developed to date.'