Behind an incredible 41-point scoring performance from shooting guard Cartlon Myers, host Paf Bologna became the fourth and final Euroleague semifinalist on Wednesday with a 88-70 victory over visiting Real Madrid in their Game 3 winner-take-all finale. Myers made the showdown his own with 28 first-half points that boosted Paf to double-digit leads early in the first quarter. When he wasn't carrying Paf on offense, Gregor Fucka was happy to do so. He added 23 points and was the game's top rebounder, with 11 boards. The Paf victory set up a semifinal classic against its lifelong cross-town rival, Kinder Bologna, in a best-of-five series starting on March 27.
"We have played a great game tonight, especially on defense, which was strong and produced a lot of fastbreaks," Paf guard Andrea Meneghin said. "And, of course, Carlton Myers was truly amazing tonight."
Paf's offensive gameplan had a first and a last name: Carlton Myers. The veterean shooting guard was the protagonist from the get-go, drawing two quick fouls on Marko Milic and one on Sasha Djordjevic to provoke the first signs of nervousness in Madrid. By the time Lucio Angulo came on court and drew two more fouls, the Paf lead was up to 12-8 and Myers had hit six free throws, including two from a technical against the Madrid bench. By the time Myers tried his hand with a three-pointer, which went in, the hometeam was in the middle of a 15-2 run that made Paf's lead 27-10. And by now, Gregor Fucka had joined the fun. Between them, he and Myers had 21 points of Paf's 27-12 lead after 10 minutes.
Absolutely nothing changed in the second quarter, except that Myers wasn't hitting more foul shots than three-pointers now. Just the opposite. Three shots from behind the arc in transition landed like bombs. The first made it 36-17, the second 39-20 and the third 52-25, the score at halftime. Obscured in the smoke between those bombs was the fact that Paf was scoring most of its other baskets on layups, many of those on fastbreaks, too. Paf finished the half with its only threes being those four that Myers made, but as a team, it had made 14 of 17 two-point shots. And by that time, the foul shooting situation had evened out, with Madrid having made 9 of 13 to Paf?s 12 of 14.
The second half proved better competition, but the 27-point mountain that Madrid had to climb was too great an obstacle. At 67-51 in the early fourth quarter, when there was still time to comeback, Fucka answered with a pretty three-point play. Combined with all the layups that he, Myers and Anthony Bowie were allowed to create in the first half, it was too much and too late for Madrid, whose top scorer was Milic with 14 points.
"Congratulations to Fortitudo," said Madrid coach Sergio Scariolo. "Carlton Myers and Gregor Fucka have played a great game. They intimidated us in the first quarter. We never could contain Myers with any defense, not man-to-man, not zone, not box-and-one. I think the only way we could have stopped Carlton Myers was to shoot him."
By that time, the Paf fans were thinking about what's coming, five games with Kinder in the semifinals.
"About Kinder?" Meneghin said. "It's a shame that we have to meet in the semifinals, but at least one Italian team will be in the Final. As always, it will be a great show and a basketball party in Bologna"
Wednesday, March 7, 2001