The fairytale season of Opel Skyliners has come to an end in Bologna, Italy, this season's destination for basketball dreamers. Defending champions Kinder Bologna defeated their guests from Frankfurt 69-62 to sweep into the Top 16 with a 12-2 record, tying Panathianiakos of Group C for the best regular season mark in the entire Euroleague. Frankfurt fell to 8-6, better than anyone expected, but only good enough for fifth-place as both of the teams it was tied with, Ulker and Union Olimpija, won their final games at home. Antoine Rigaudeau had the game-high for the victors with 15 points followed by David Andersen's 14 and 7 rebounds. Aleksandar Lockhmanchuk led Opel with 14 points followed by Marcus Goree and Chad Austin, who contributed 13 each.
It was an ugly game at the beginning of the first quarter. Both teams were unable to find, let alone maintain, any sort of rhythm. Kinder suffered from Ginobili's foul troubles, while Frankfurt only found points from Austin. Kinder led 7-5 after five minutes but then went on a mini 6-0 run. It was 13-5 for the home team before Lokhmanchuk entered the game. "Loch" sank a three and brought the Skyliners back into the game. Kinder still led by five at the end of the first period, 17-12, thanks to Andersen's and Jaric's points in the closing minutes.
Many mistakes and many turnovers characterized the first half. Kinder was able to go on a mini run to take an 8-point lead at 31-23, but Andersen wasted free throw opportunities and committed many mistakes in the paint. The game was choppy and Goree took advantage and scored twice. Baskets then became about as frequent as goals in soccer, and finally free throws from both Roller and Frosini ended the mistake-filled half with Kinder up by four, 33-29.
It was one of the ugliest third quarters ever seen in Palamalaguti arena. Kinder was held scoreless for five minutes before Frosini scored their first basket of the half. Meanwhile, Lokhmanchuk made two steals and turned them into easy fastbreak points. The Skyliners were able to run the ball thanks to a switch to zone defense. Kinder could not crack the 2-3 called by coach Herbert, while Goree did a great job on the boards. Opel flew by Kinder 33-35, and ended the third quarter up by eight, 42-50.
Kinder was finally able to break through the zone defense and recover thanks to a three by Abbio which fixed the score at 49-51. Kinder still made many mistakes but Frankfurt was unable to exploit them. The game was tied at 57-57 on Andersen's jumper which caused Frankfurt to switch to man-to-man. Although the score was still close, the game felt as it was already over as all the momentum had switched over to Kinder's side. A couple of free throws for the home team gave them a 67-60 lead as Lokhmanchuk and Goree missed last-minute three-point attempts that could have kept them in the game.
Thursday, February 14, 2002
Daniele Baiesi, Bolgona