Kinder Bologna had an answer Thursday to the injuries, the doubts and the questions: a killer defense that never let Ulker breathe in its own arena at Istanbul and a resounding 51-75 victory for the defending Euroleague champions. This game should not be counted in points, but in balls stolen, turnovers forced and shots frustrated by the inspired Kinder defenders. Playing without Rashard Griffith, Antoine Rigaudeau and Sani Becirovic, Kinder gave up two quick Ulker three-pointers in the game's first minute and then erected a fence at their defensive end. Ulker averaged 12 points a quarter after the first, and with each passing one, Kinder's lead and confidence to finish first in Group B expanded. Kinder is now 8-2, still one win ahead of Barcelona, while Ulker falls to 6-4 in fifth place. Alessandro Abbio led the winners with 21 points, while Emanuel Ginobili and Marko Jaric tallied 12 each. For Ulker, Harun Erdenay had 21 points, but he was the only effective scorer. The next best was Haluk Yildirim with 6.
Ulker started the game with back-to-back three-pointers coming from Yildirim and Erdenay, good for a 6-0 lead. But those easy points, and soon another three by Erdenay, were deceptive. The effective game of the Kinder big men inside, David Andersen, Alessandro Frosini turned the mood of the match immediately to Kinder. Abbio, Jaric and Ginobili soon had one three-pointer each for Kinder, which went ahead to stay at 11-12 on a basket by Andersen. The points came more and more slowly for Ulker as it limped to the end of 10 minutes trailing 15-17.
To start the second quarter, Matjaz Smodis came in and added to Kinder's frontcourt scoring with four quick points. He added a block at the other end that led to an Abbio three-pointer as Kinder kept strung together an 11-2 run that resulted in the first double-digit lead, 17-28. Ignoring the absence of Griffith in the paint, the Kinder defense was as intense as ever as it continued causing Ulker bad shot attempts and turnovers. Erdenay finally broke Ulker's six-minute dry spell with a basket, but even four more points by Asim Pars in the final minutes before halftime failed to keep the visitors from holding the double-digit lead at 25-37 for intermission. Abbio himself was up to 11 points then, more than Ulker scored in the whole second quarter.
Kinder took total control of the game in the third period, extending its lead almost minute by minute until a slashing basket by Jaric more than halfway through the quarter put the lead at an impressive 20 points: 32-52. It says enough about Kinder's defense to note that the difference then was nearly as much as Ulker had scored, and a.most 15 minutes still remained. It was all Ulker could do, with an Erdenay three-pointer and two insiders from Robert Stelmahers, to reduce the differance to 16 at the end of the third period, 39-55.
Kinder never let Ulker catch up. There was only one man fighting against the loss, Erdenay, the Ulker captain. But it was not enough. A spectacular inside drive of Emanuel Ginobili made it 46-66 with under four minutes left and made it clear that the gap between first and fifth place in Group B was as large as it looks.
Thursday, January 10, 2002