In something of a battle of opposites, defending Euroleague champion Kinder Bologna moved within a victory of the Top 16 on Wednesday by soundly beating Peristeri of Greece 87-72 in front of an approving home crowd at Palamalaguti arena. Despite missing three of its top players for most of the month, Kinder (9-2) is solidly first in a tight Group B and on schedule to join the continental elite with either another victory of its own or another loss by Ulker Istanbul. One of those injured players, captain Antoine Rigaudeau, returned on Thursday, but two other steady members of the backcourt took up the scoring duties they have become accustomed to. Marko Jaric was the leader this time with 22 points, while Emanuel Ginobili was close behind with 19. Their steady contribution offset a good inside game by Peristeri (2-9) that saw Adam Wojcik score 20 and Kostas Tsartsaris 13.
Its backcourt was Kinder's offensive strength in the opening minutes. Ginobili started the game with 8 points and only one mistake from the field, creating plenty of problems for Peristeri while driving inside. Jaric did the rest, and Kinder was able to make the first important run of the game after 6 minutes, taking an 8 points lead 19-11. Peristeri found good things on offense, with Wojcik picking up five points and Mikalis Pelekanos driving inside. Not even Peristeri's had four turnovers in the early going affected its point total much as Byron Dinkins was able to drive and pass to Michael Andersen for two easy dunks. Still, defensive transition proved a real problem for the visitors. Even when Peristeri changed to a 2-3 zone defense, Kinder beat it twice from the perimeter to close the quarter ahead 27-20.
Second quarter started very nervous for both teams, who were unable to score for 3 minutes. Kinder kept 6 points lead, but had many turnovers and only one basket from the field (Smodis), while Peristeri found a triple on the break with Pelekanos. Messina called Brkic on court, but Peristeri started playing good offence giving the ball to Wojcik, really unstoppable for Kinder one on one (18 points at the halftime). Abbio found two triples in the last minute and gave back Kinder an important lead in the game. Kinder controlled the game leading by 10 (46-36), with Jaric, Abbio and Ginobioi in double figure (respectively 11, 14 and 10 points each)
Kinder lengthened its lead in the third quarter, thanks to the many free throws earned by Ginobili driving inside. Everything seemd to go according to plan, but Peristeri hung around thanks still to Wojcik and to finding good things opening the court with the pick-and-roll. Out of nowhere, Peristeri was able to make a 10-2 run and actually pull within two, 48-46, on a on Papamakarios triple. But then Alessandro Abbio nailed his own three in response and Kinder escaped once again to a 71-57 lead after three quarters with Jaric and Ginobili making devastating one-on-one attacks. It was much the same in the final quarter, Kinder retaining control Jaric and Ginobili until the final buzzer sounded.
Thursday, January 17, 2002