And the Oscar for best interpretation of a team from Bologna, Italy that seriously wants the Euroleague title goes to.....Kinder. Well, even if the trophy remains several tough wins away, Kinder certainly backed up its role as favorite on Tuesday with a relentless offensive and defensive dismantling of its cross-town rival, Paf. The final score of 103-76 says eough. This game was over early. Swingman Emanuel Ginobili played star-of-the-night for Kinder with 16 first-half points, and finished with 22. A defense played with religious fervor and a bunch of open shooters nailing their three-pointers took care of everything else. All of it proved that the last result never matters, as Kinder was the loser when these teams played in the Italian League 10 days ago. Paf suffered a bigger whipping, however, and has less than 48 hours until Game 2 in which to recover. "I'm happy, but we're only up 1-0," said Ginobili coming off the court. "We have to do it again Thursday, but I think we?re on the right track."
It would be hard to find someone who didn't shine for Kinder, but the entire starting backcourt seemed unstoppable. From the first minute, Antoine Rigaudeau proved his recent injury is a thing of the past. He finished with 11 points in 18 minutes, most of those in the decisive first half. Marko Jaric was all over, with 14 points, 7 rebounds and 3 steals. In the frontcourt, Rashard Griffith had 13 points and Alessandro Frosini 10, several of those taking advantage of the attention Paf paid to all the other starters early in the game. "We've shown again that nobody can come to our court thinking they can win," Jaric said at courtside.
Among Paf's stars, only Gregor Fucka showed up, and his 17 points and 9 rebounds were not enough. In his first Euroleague playoff game since scoring 41 on Real Madrid in the quarterfinals, Carlton Myers went 25 minutes without so much as a point. He finished with 2. Stojan Vrankovic (1 rebound) disappeared after a hook shot and some early fouls. And Andrea Meneghin (2 points) continued to look uncomfortable on the floor. Kinder?s defense had plenty to do with those subpar performances, as help swarmed on anyone who made it to the lane and blocked all the passing lanes inside or out. While five Kinder players shot in 8 of 11 three-pointers in the first half, Paf had no such bonus shot, but as many players committing turnovers. Perhaps more worrisome were the shots Paf did manage to launch, inside or out. When it wasn't Fucka shooting, the ball had little chance of landing through the net. It was that way all night.
When not throwing into the low-post to establish inside scoring, the perimeter players from both teams tried identical tactics to start the game, driving the lane and passing out if they got stopped. Only Paf's passes never made it back outside and Kinder's found wide-open three-point shooters who were not inclined to miss. Antoine Rigaudeau hit the first, Ginobili joined in and within five minutes Paf was calling timeout with a 16-5 deficit staring down from the scoreboard. Fucka came back with two buckets to cut it to 21-14, but now Rigaudeau and Davide Bonora nailed another three each and Kinder stormed to the 10-minute mark with a 27-17 lead.
The break at the quarter changed little. Marko Jaric quickly joined the three-point show, and after a few turns inside for Griffith, a new member of Kinder's cast of long-range shooters, forward Matjaz Smodis, nailed one from the corner to make it 48-25. The next two possessions went to Ginobili, who drove right through the Paf defense for a baseline dunk and then floated a sweet running hook over the big men. When Paf scored five unanswered points to pull within 47-31, coach Ettore Messina called timout to order the ball inside to Griffith and Kinder matched the mini-run to put the halftime lead back up above 20 at 52-31.
Five different Kinder players had hit three-pointers by the time Bowie finally hit Paf's first one, midway through the third quarter, but by then, not even a fourth foul on Griffith for elbowing Giacomo Galanda was enough to excite Paf. The third quarter ended 77-51 and the fourth quarter served only for Kinder's kids on the bench to gain some more confidence against the enemy. "Now, our reaction after Game 1 is very important," Galanda said. "We have to close the lockerroom door and find in our soul and in our mind the strength to come back."
Tuesday, March 27, 2001