Twenty teams started the 2021-22 7DAYS EuroCup season last November and Virtus Segafredo Bologna was the last one standing! Virtus defeated Frutti Extra Bursaspor 80-67 at home in Basket City to become the newest EuroCup champion and a new addition to the 2022-23 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague season.
Game Night: Virtus is the 7DAYS EuroCup champion and headed back to the EuroLeague!
Weems, Teodosic put the game on ice
Kyle Weems came through with a pair of impressive blocks and Milos Teodosic produced a pair of magical plays with a brilliant assist to Mam Jaiteh for a slam and then a penetration to make it 80-67 with 1:36 remaining. The arena is rocking as the fans are getting ready to celebrate!
Fear not, Virtus fans!
The hosts have regrouped and surged ahead by 10 again. Mam Jaiteh’s put-back basket and Toko Shengelia’s spin move leading to a reverse layup extended the margin to 70-60. Bursaspor has called timeout to try to prepare for one more charge.
Bursaspor within 5!
Virtus Segafredo Arena is still rocking, but it’s a little quieter than it was a few minutes ago. A 0-6 Bursaspor run with baskets by David Dudzinski, Derek Needham and Onuralp Bitim have narrowed the gap to 64-59 less than 2 minutes into the fourth quarter. Could we have a thrilling finish on our hands?
There is a reason Milos Teodosic is a former EuroLeague champion, a EuroLeague MVP and a EuroCup Regular Season MVP. He comes up big when his team needs him. He buries back-to-back three-pointers to make it 58-43 with 3 minutes to go in the third quarter. He leads all scorers with 19 points. No Bursaspor player has even half as many points.
Pattern continues into the third quarter
The main pattern of the first half continued into the third quarter as Virtus asserted its dominance early, despite the best efforts of Kevarrius Hayes, and matched its biggest lead of the game. 50-35, with a Toko Shengelia basket in the paint. And then Bursaspor fought back with 8 straight points, half of which came from Derek Needham. Before the last 2 points, Needham free throws, Virtus called timeout to regroup. Will it work?
Visitors trim the deficit to 10 at the break
Virtus had its biggest lead of the game yet, 40-25, after Jakarr Sampson scored inside with a little less than 2 minutes remaining in the second quarter. However, Bursaspor had the better finish to the first half. The visitors got two baskets from David Dudzinski and 2 free throws from John Holland in a 1-6 close to the half that trimmed the deficit to 10 at the break.
There’s no quit in Bursaspor
Facing a double-digit deficit, Bursaspor has continued to show the grit and spirit that saw it win three consecutive road games to reach the final. Kevarrius Hayes made a major impact in the paint with a pair of blocks, including one of the highlight reel variety of the freshly crowned EuroCup MVP, Mam Jaiteh. Is there a comeback in the cards? John Holland split free throws to make it 34-23 with 4 minutes remaining until the halftime break.
Teodosic gets ankle treatment
Milos Teodosic came out on first with a triple for his team’s first points. He added 5 more points and an assist to Kyle Weems for a triple that made it 14-7 midway through the opening quarter. However, he also took an early spill and came up limping. Though Teodosic played through it, As soon as he was taken off at the 3:06 mark of the first quarter, he went behind his team’s bench to get his ankle examined and taped up by the team’s medical staff.
Bursaspor faces early foul trouble
Bursaspor faced its first crisis of the game in less than 3 minutes, despite leading 5-7. The visitors were called for 5 fouls in the first 2:46 of game time, meaning that Virtus was already in the bonus. Derek Needham and Kevarrius Hayes were each responsible for 2 of them and Coach Dusan Alimpijevic has little choice other than to sit them. John Holland came in for the former and Metin Turen for the latter.
Here are tonight's starters
For Bursaspor it's Derek Needham and Andrew Andrews at guard, Onuralp Bitim And David Dudzinski at forward and Kevarrius Hayes at center. And for Virtus...
They're on the floor!
The Bursaspor fans are making noise, too
While the Bursaspor fans are clearly outnumbered, they are singing at the top of their voices too and are certain to be heard all night long. They are situated in the corner of the arena not far from the team's bench, so the players will feel their support throughout the game, too.
A blackout in the stands!
The Virtus fans are planning a blackout in the stands tonight. That is to say, the fans are all coming in black shirts to support the team, which is affectionately known as The Black V, due to the large black V in the club's logo. You can already see that fans decked in black filling the arena and we can start to get a feeling for the electric atmosphere expected when the opening tip goes up at this sold-out arena. Among the fans to cheer on Virtus is the club's women's team, which was greatly warmly by the fans.
This is what it's all about
The Bursaspor social media team came in for a closeup of the EuroCup trophy. As you can see, the players are ignoring it for now and shooting, but the fact that it is in the background is true for all 24 players tonight. Every one of them dreams to lift it at the end of the game, but only half of them will get that chance.
Bursaspor players get their shots in
First on, first off. Derek Needham finished his pre-game shooting routine and left the court without stopping by the EuroCup trophy, which is on display on a podium at center court. Needham sets the tone for his team in many ways, including fine sportsmanship. Before heading back to the locker room, Needham thanks the Virtus ballboys who were rebounding for him. A classy gesture from a classy player.
Virtus is in the building!
By the time you read these lines, players from both teams are warming up. Derek Needham was the first Bursaspor player on the floor to get his shots in and Amedao Tessitori had the honors for Virtus. The home team was all business on its way into the building, as seen from the footage below.
Virtus combines championship experience as a club – two EuroLeague titles, three more European trophies and 24 Italian league and cup titles – with experience up and down the roster. It all starts with the veteran Milos Teodosic, the straw who stirs the drink at Virtus and was joined in midseason by another former EuroLeague champion in Daniel Hackett and the only previous EuroCup winner on either team, Tornike Shengalia. Add in established stars like Marco Belinelli and Kyle Weems, those coming into their primes like Mam Jaiteh and Isaia Cordinier, and young bucks like Alessandro Pajola, Kevin Hervey and Nico Mannion, and the reigning World Cup champion head coach, Sergio Scariolo, has plenty of weapons to choose from.
By contrast, Bursaspor is as unexpected as a finalist can be. The club is all of eight years old and has spent just the last three in Turkey's first division. Its sole trophy was Turkey's second-division title and its only player with any continental final experience, John Holland, lost last season's EuroCup title series while playing for UNICS Kazan. The entire roster except for forwards Metin Turen and the injured Birkan Batuk is new since last season, in the middle of which Coach Dusan Alimpijevic arrived. Bursaspor rallied behind guards Derrick Needham and Andrew Andrews, forwards Holland and Onuralp Bitim, and big men Turen, Dave Dudzinski and Kevarrius Hayes to reach the playoffs and knock off three higher-seeded teams on the road.
Two earlier meetings between them offer some clues going into this game. In the season opener, Hervey led seven double-digit Virtus scorers with 18 points in a strong 83-101 road win in Bursa. Virtus won their rematch in early March, too, but this one was closer, 98-94, despite being in Bologna. Jaiteh put up 23 points that night while Teodosic dished 13 assists, but the re-born Andrews exploded for 37 points for Bursaspor.