Finals, Game 5: Kinder Bologna becomes first champ in last game!
The team that refused to lose throughout this revolutionary season made European basketball history with a commanding 82-74 victory in Game 5 of the Finals against Tau Ceramica. Kinder's third win in the best-of-five Finals allowed coach Ettore Messina and his players to lift the championship trophy at center court without a doubt about their deservedness to be called the best team in Europe this season. Kinder posted the Euroleague's best regular season record, 9-1, and outdid itself with a 11-2 run against four elite opponents in the playoffs. Manu Ginobili, who was the unanimous MVP with 16 points, and Antoine Rigaudeau, who led his team with 18 points, took turns lifting up Kinder in the middle quarters. Matjaz Smodis was Thursday's timely star off the bench, scoring the last five points of the third quarter to fend off Tau's best comeback attempt. It all added up to a title-clinching performance for the 2000-2001 Euroleague champs: Kinder Bologna!
Finals, Game 4: TAU forces decisive Game 5
Tau Ceramica, the giant-killers of the postseason, remained alive and kicking after downing Kinder Bologna 96-79 in Game 4 to even the best-of-five series at 2-2. Fired up by their 9,500 fans at Fernando Buesa Arena, Tau showed the same character and resourcefulness that got them this far, and came up with answers for everything Kinder threw at them. Elmer Bennett directed the orchestra with 19 points and 8 assists, but Victor Alexander and Mindaugas Timinskas added 18 points each as Tau's point total soared as if Kinder's famous defense didn't exist. Besides helping Tau's exterior game recover completely, Timinskas also threw down the dunk of the season in the second quarter. Rashard Griffith led Kinder with 18 points. As such, the heroes of Vitoria, Spain extended the Euroleague Finals to the very limit, Game 5 on May 10, in Bologna, Italy. In other words, the Euroleague season went down to one exciting, outstanding showdown.
Finals, Game 3: Kinder wins away, has first match ball
Kinder Bologna got one step away from glory tonight after posting an emphatic 60-80 road win over Tau Ceramica in Game 3 of the Euroleague Finals before 9,500 distraught fans at Fernando Buesa Arena in Vitoria, Spain. In yet another display of its bottomless resolve, Kinder closed ranks despite early foul trouble to center Rashard Griffith to take Tau and its crowd slowly out of the game. The man of the match was Manu Ginobili, who made one spectacular play after another en route to 27 points in a game where every other player was hard pressed to reach double digits. Ginobili made 6-of-7 two-pointers, half of them acrobatic, and added 4-of-8 three-pointers, including two to start the final quarter that left Tau helpless. With a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series, Kinder could now take the Euroleague title if it could win Game 4. Antoine Rigaudeau provided key help with 15 points for Kinder. Fabricio Oberto had 15 points for Tau while Victor Alexander added 13.
Finals, Game 2: Kinder strikes back, ties series
With Rashard Griffith back in the lineup in Game 2, Kinder Bologna bit back with a resounding 94-73 victory against Tau Ceramica that not only evened the best-of-five series at a victory apiece, but promised a full-metal battle from this point forward. Kinder's wounded pride after a Game 1 loss to visiting Tau on Tuesday healed in a hurry thanks to a rain of three-pointers that left Tau looking uphill almost from the games start. With that fierce pride in place again on defense, Kinder needed nothing more strenuous from Griffith than 9 points a 8 rebounds. With its perimeter stars in a shooting contest with each other, hitting (15-of-26 three-pointers), Kinder didn't need much more. Antoine Rigaudeau was able to make 6-of-7 three pointers he attempted to total 23 points. Four other Kinder scorers hit for double figures: Marko Jaric with 13, David Andersen and Alessandro Abbio with 14, and Emanuel Ginobili with 11. Victor Alexander had 17 for Tau.
Finals, Game 1: TAU opens fire in best-of-five series
Tau Ceramica opened the Euroleague Finals with a major upset by downing Kinder Bologna 65-78 in Game 1 in Basket City. Just like that, exactly as it had done in three other playoff rounds, Tau stole back the homecourt advantage in the series opener. As always, Tau gave a classic team effort, but it was Victor Alexander with 21 points and 19 rebounds who showed the way, especially as Tau opened leads of up to 21 points in the middle quarters. Alexander thrived in the absence of injured center Rashard Griffith of Kinder, but for much of the game, Tau was without its best rebounder, Fabricio Oberto, who drew four fouls in as many minutes to start the game. Laurent Foirest added 20 points, Elmer Bennett had 15 while Mindaugas Timinskas got 11 for Tau. Marko Jaric led Kinder with 14 points. David Andersen added 12, Sandro Frosini had 11 while Sandro Abbio got 10 for the hosts, that never recovered from their 30-46 halftime deficit.