Kinder Bologna is one victory away from the Euroleague finals. This time Paf's stars came to play, but even with that much talent to deal with, Kinder would not be denied on its home court and ended up running away with a 92-84 victory in Game 2. As such, Kinder takes the upper hand with a 2-0 lead in their best-of-five semifinal series. Faced with Paf's perimeter stars all finding their games at once, Kinder went inside to Rashard Griffith and Alessandro Frosini to establish new and better leads, then let a couple inspired drives from Emanuel Ginobili take the heart out of Paf's repeated comeback attempts. "We won, we played well and the important thing is that we?re up 2-0 in the series," Kinder guard Davide Bonora said afterward. "But Paf has demonstrated tonight that they absolutely are not dead."
Griffith led a huge 40-29 rebounding advantage for Kinder, but it was the timeliness of the Frosini's 5 offensive rebounds that seemed to break Paf's back in the second half. Both big men hauled in offensive boards as Griffith scored seven points in a row to help break a 43-all halftime tie, and after Paf rallied to tie again at 52-52, Frosini scored five unanswered points of his own. "Frosini was very important to the victory, as much as Ginobili and Griffith," said Kinder coach Ettore Messina afterwards. Paf put five scorers in double figures led by Carlton Myers with 23 points, Gianluca Basile and Gregor Fucka with 13 each, but it was not enough against a Kinder team that was getting so many extra possession on rebounds. "Virtus dominated the rebounds and normally the team who grabs more rebounds wins the game," said Paf coach Charlie Recalcati. "But tonight, we showed that the series could be a long one."
Though it would not have seemed quite possible beforehand, Kinder had a better start to this game than to the first one, which ended up a blowout. This time, Jaric took up the role of catalyst, but Rigaudeau and Ginobili didn't disappear. After the game opened with an Anthony Bowie three-pointer, the three of them whacked holes in Paf's defense. Rigaudeau's three-pointer started an 18-3 run, then after Paf pulled within 19-12, Jaric and Davide Bonora drilled threes to end the quarter with Kinder ahead 26-12. That, as compared to the 27-17 of the first game, was a better start. What was more impressive was the ease with which Jaric went to the basket one moment for a reverse layup and the next baffled all the Paf defenders while driving for a hand-changing layup. It raised the notion that, against a zone or man-to-man defense, Kinder's quick-footed backcourt wasn't going to be denied.
Then the second quarter started, and Paf woke up from its bad dream. The trio of Andrea Meneghin, Gianluca Basile and Eurelijus Zukauskas was suddenly finding its own holes in a Kinder defense that had been impenetrable for five quarters since the series started. They each made a shot in a 10-0 run that featured three Kinder turnovers plus a technical foul on the third one as the home team, confronting its first tough minutes of the series, got frustrated. Kinder?s lead was down to 29-22 when Carlton Myers entered and joined in with his own three-pointer. That was the first of two eac by him and by Meneghin in a new run, 15-5, which resulted in Paf's first lead at 37-34. The teams went back and forth until a 43-43 tie at halftime. The battle was joined.
As might be expected, Kinder coach Ettore Messina went to his strong man, Griffith, to re-establish some control. Working the inside against Zukauskas, Griffith scored 7 points as Kinder went back ahead, 52-45, but the response from Paf came on a 7-0 run featuring Myers, Meneghin (three-pointer) and, finally, Fucka, who had been held to 3 points in the whole first half. But Paf's response was met with Kinder's, starting with five unanswered points by Alessandro Frosini and ended with his free-throw to finish the quarter with Kinder having gone ahead 68-59. In between, Ginobili got back into the action with four points and but for a five-point possession with 40 seconds left, Paf would have been staring at a double-digit deficit to cover in the final 10 minutes.
Well, the double digits came right away, with a Ginobili three-pointer that made it 74-63. And after a Myers three-pointer pulled Paf back to 74-68, Ginobili answered with a drive and sweet left-handed floater from the land that restored order with just over 5 minutes left. A few plays later, the lead at 81-74 and Paf rushing up three-pointers to try to come back again, Ginobili blew by his defender to throw down a tomahawk dunk that decided it except for the free throw shooting.
Thursday, March 29, 2001