Turkish Airlines Euroleague
May 25, 2013
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Tel Aviv 2004
Qualifying Rounds 2012
NIKE International Junior Tournament
F4 History: 2001, A year with two champs
Kinder won in 5 games
Kinder Bologna 3
Tau Ceramica 2
Kinder Bologna 3
Paf Bologna 0
Tau Ceramica 3
AEK Athens 0
In the summer of 2000, something historical would happen: the new Euroleague was born. A project backed by the ULEB, the Euroleague gathered 24 teams in its first edition, 24 clubs that decided to step away from FIBA to take part in a competition completely managed by the Euroleague. On the other side, FIBA replied by creating the Suproleague, with 20 teams. Even though most of the important teams went to the Euroleague, the situation aroused confusion, mainly among the fans. The final result of it all were two champs: Kinder Bologna in the Euroleague and Maccabi Tel Aviv in the Suproleague. The competition formats were different. In the Euroleague, the first phase divided the 24 teams into four groups, and the best 16 played playoff rounds until the final. The semifinals were solved in three games each, as Kinder got rid of PAF Bologna with a 3-0, as Tau Ceramica of Spain did the same with AEK Athens. In a great best-of-five final series, Kinder was crowned champ by 3-2, as Emanuel Ginobili was designated MVP of the finals. In the Suproleague, after a first phase with two groups of 10 teams, and two rounds of playoffs, the Final Four in Paris would see these teams: Panathinaikos, Efes Pilsen, CSKA Moscow and Maccabi. In semis, Panathinaikos defeated Efes by 74-66, while Maccabi beat CSKA by 86-80. In the final, which was the same as the previous year, Maccabi took revenge with an easy 81-67 victory.
Interview: Emanuel Ginobili of Kinder Bologna
Ginobili was electric
In his first season on the Euroleague stage, Emanuel Ginobili was named the MVP of the 2001 finals, leading Virtus Bologna to its second Euroleague title with a great playoff series victory. That 3-2 victory over Tau Ceramica and his exploits in the semifinal series against crosstown rivals Fortitudo Bologna put Ginobili on the long list of greats who have made their name in Basket City. But it was Game 3 of those finals, in Vitoria, where the whole of Europe saw the talent of 'Manu'. His 27 points that night stole back the homecourt advantage for Kinder and launched his name into world basketball. Although he is now in the NBA fighting for a title there with the San Antonio Spurs, Ginobili remembers the finals of 2001 as "the happiest moments of my career".
That series with Tau Vitoria boosted your name. And you were a debutant for Euroleague.
"Even if we had already won the Italian Cup, I consider the Euroleague my first trophy. I remember the night in Bologna with all the fans, all great memories. I don't remember playing a great series: For example, I remember I didn't shoot so well. But I am aware that Game 3 was the key of the series. I tried to give my contribution, and luckily we won."
You have played both the Final Four and the playoff. What do you prefer?
"I'd say that the best team often wins with a playoff, because it's difficult that you miss straight straight games. On the other hand, the Final Four is great for the atmosphere, two games in three days with the fans of all four teams there It's a great event, but I like the playoff best, maybe because I played the Final Four last year and I lost. I remember we played good in semifinals against Benetton, but then we lost with Panathinaikos, as we let them play their basketball. I felt less nervous the day of the final, while I had been quite restless on Friday".
Let's be back to the 2001 finals; in that series against Tau you were routed at home in Game 1 and the result surprised everybody.
"I don't know what happened in that game. For sure, we were too nervous, we felt the pressure of the result, we had to win. Then there was the Rashard Griffith case. We didn't know if he was going to play or not. Everybody was waiting for us, but we missed the game. That was really a bad night."
I remember Ettore Messina, your coach, saying 'I would settle for a 1-1 after the first two games'. Maybe he had realized that an upset was about to arrive.
"I remember, too. Ettore understood the moment, and he tried to take pressure off our backs."
You were awarded with the MVP trophy. Did you ever think of it during the series?
"I didn't think about the prize until it was given to me after Game 5, because I was too focused on the series to think about individual awards. I wanted to win with my team. That was the important thing".
Which is the snapshot of that period you still save in your mind when you think about that 2001 final from San Antonio, Texas?
"That's too easy to say: I remember all the people going crazy in Bologna. It's impossible to forget. I really can say I lived in another dimension for some days, I was flying. But I also remember our faces in the locker room: We were tired, but smiling, happy and satisfied because it was a great goal for us, especially for a young team like ours. Your dreams come true, you feel that all the work you did was rewarded."
Friday, March 01, 2002
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