A magic season in the Euroleague's farthest-flung city ended with a bang on Wednesday as Ural Great finally got the home win it craved for weeks, an 87-78 decision that came at the expense of Final Four qualifier and defending champion Kinder Bologna. Another sellout crown of 7,000 in Perm, Russia saw their loyalty vindicated as Ural, the last-place team in Group F, proved too much on this night for Kinder, which had clinched first place a week earlier. Ural forward Ruslan Avleev left his mark,leading all scorers with 28 points. Panagiotis Liadelis added 18 for the winners, Vasili Karasev 16 and Sergei Panov 12. Kinder (4-2) closed the Top 16 with an uncharacteristic two-game losing streak. Even stranger was Emanuel Ginobili going scoreless for Kinder and fouling out. Antoine Rigaudeu would lead the visitors with 16 points, many of those in the last quarter. Marko Jaric chipped in 15, Matjaz Smodis 14 and Sani Becirovic 10. Kinder will play the Final Four, May 3 to 5 at its own arena, PalaMalaguti, in Bologna.
Ural came out fighting with the defending Euroleague champions, staying on top with a run in the middle of the first quarter as veteran Vasili Karasev and Liadelis found ways around the Kinder defense. A pair of Karasev three-pointers were the ticket to a 17-14 Ural lead after 5 minutes. Once again, however, the visitors found their own people to do damage to Ural's frontline defese. First, David Anderson scored 7 points in a three-minute span to pull Kinder within 17-16. Then Sani Becirovic put his team in front, Matjaz Smodis sank a three and Marko Jaric added his own basket for the visitors. It all amounted to a 2-9 run in the final 5 minutes, which allowed the visitors to lead 20-23 after one quarter.
Ural responded early in the second quarter with the scoring combo of Avleev and Liadelis helping to forge a tie at 32-32. Smodis put Kinder back in the lead with his second three-pointer, but Avleev would have none of that on his own floor. He and Karasev took up three-point weapons themselves and pushed the home team to the game's first significant lead, 43-37 at the half. Avleev had 12 points by then and Karasev 10 for Ural, while Smodis was up to 10 for Kinder.
Avleeve continued hot and Liadelis joined him after halftime, when Ural was able to push the lead to double digits, first at 58-48. Avleev then canned another three-pointer, pushing his own total to 21 points with more than 2 minutes left in the third quarter, while putting his team ahead 13, 61-48. Most remarkable also was that Emanuel Ginobili was completely out of the game for Kinder, with 4 fouls and not a single point. Karasev added 4 points of his own as the lead climbed to 65-48. Kinder finished the quarter with a 2-8 run but only but the deficit to 67-56 headed into the final period.
Avleev proved too much for the visitors to stop in the fourth quarter, too, as he, Sergei Panov and Liadelis put the finishing touches on the victory. Kinder finally reacted behind Rigaudeau in the final 5 minutes, but the most they could manage was cutting the lead to single digits. The fans of Ural got the win they waited for throughout the Top 16, and at the expense of the defending champion going into the Final Four as a favorite. If anyone still needed proof that Ural Great deserved a place among Europe's best basketball teams, the evidence was in the result of the final game of the Euroleague season in Perm.
Wednesday, April 17, 2002