Kinder Bologna Wins European Title
Apr. 23, 1998
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) _ Kinder Bologna brought Italy its first European basketball title in 10 years, defeating AEK Athens 58-44 in Thursday's championship game behind 14 points from Antoine Rigaudeau and 13 from Sasha Danilovic.
Benetton Treviso defeated Partizan Belgrade 96-89 in the third-place game.
The game before 11,900 went off without incident, following Tuesday's violent semifinal that pitted Spanish anti-riot police against 2,500 AEK fans. Fans ripped out dozens of seats, set off fireworks and bombarded police with insults and projectiles. Five police were hurt.
The final was supervised by about 600 policemen, twice the number as in the semifinal and, save for a brief run-in early with a few AEK fans, the police had little to do.
Spanish organizers, determined to regain control, also erected a 7-foot fence to cordon off the Greeks.
Kinder Bologna, the pre-tournament favorite, used depth, stifling defense and experience to beat AEK, which got too little offense from its American cornerstones, Willie Anderson and Victor Alexander.
Anderson, a former San Antonio Spurs player, was limited to four points by Danilovic, who spent two seasons with Miami and Dallas. Alexander was held to five points and was outplayed by Zoran Savic, voted MVP of the finals.
Savic had seven points in the final after getting 23 in the semifinal.
Jose Lasa's seven points led AEK.
``We concentrated our defense on Victor Alexander, (Branislav) Prelevic and Willie Anderson,'' Kinder coach Ettore Messina said. ``Two nights ago, Anderson beat Benetton with 22 points. Taking him away, we took away the source of their offense.''
Kinder's man-to-man defense was suffocating, and its sure ballhandling gave AEK little option but to struggle with a dreary half-court game and try outslugging Kinder inside.
Kinder, up 28-20 at the half, seemed comfortable until AEK closed to four with 3:27 to play. A follow of his own miss by Danilovic and Savic's 3-pointer made it 52-42 with 1:29 to play.
``The main reason we won was we have more talent, and I don't mean that as an insult to AEK,'' Messina said. `When you have two or three star players like we have _ Rigaudeau, Danilovic and Savic _ you expect then to lead at the end, and that's what they did.
``I knew they had the responsibility and heart to take over.''
The European club championship was Kinder's first, and a first for the highly respected Messina, who brought Italy a silver medal in last summer's European national championships.
Messina jumped in to defend the tactics used in the game.
``In Europe we have this strange habit. When a game is low-scoring with good defense, everybody considers it a second-level game,'' Messina said. ``In America where they are more educated with a complete understanding of the game, they appreciate a game like this, one like Bobby Knight might coach.
``At the end, I'll tell you there were 4,000 fans from Bologna who went home happy with the 58 points.''
AEK coach Yiannis Ioannide failed for the sixth time in six tries to win a title. He had lost twice with Olympiakos and three times with Salonica.
``I don't want to talk about particular players, that's the easy part to blame it on one or the other,'' Ioannides said. ``The more interesting thing is what the team did.
``The whole game Kinder was better. In the end the better team won, it's as simple as that.''