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Atenas de Cordoba Wins Opening Game

October 16, 1997

PARIS (AP) _ Argentina’s Atenas de Cordoba defeated Italy’s Benetton Treviso 87-78 Thursday in the opening game of the three-day McDonald’s Championship.

The victory put the South Americans into the Friday semifinals against European champions Olympiakos of Greece.

In the second game, Paris-St. Germain of France faced FC Barcelona, with the winner taking on the Chicago Bulls in Friday’s semifinals.

The South American champion was led by Pichi Campana with 23 points and Fabricio Raul Oberto with 22. American Henry Williams and Davide Bonora had 15 for the Italians.

The Argentines, disciplined and well-coached by Ruben Pablo Magnano, were up by as many as 16 in the third quarter and withstood a mild threat in the fourth quarter by the Italians.

About half of Paris’ 15,000-seat Bercy Sports Palace was filled for Thursday’s games. The real show begins Friday with the five-time NBA champion Bulls and Michael Jordan.

The NBA is 14-0 in the previous seven McDonald’s Championship, which since 1995 has featured the defending NBA champion. But there have been close calls.

In 1990, the New York Knicks needed a 3-pointer with eight seconds left to force overtime and beat Italy’s Scavoline Pesaro by four. Six years ago in Paris, Magic Johnson and the Los Angeles Lakers squeezed by Spain’s Joventut Badalona 116-114.

The Bulls, 1-2 in the preseason and looking beatable, are without Scottie Pippen for three months because of foot surgery, and Dennis Rodman didn’t make the trip because of bronchitis and pneumonia.

Jordan skipped half of Thursday’s practice with a sore toe _ another distraction coach Phil Jackson doesn’t need.

``I don’t think the toe is going to hurt the way I play,″ Jordan said.

This is by far the biggest McDonald’s Championship, with more than 1,000 journalists from 54 countries accredited _ more than for the NBA finals.

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