The French team’s dynamic duo was instrumental in forcing the hosts into submission.
Mike James, Jordan Loyd powered Monaco past Virtus
Mike James and Jordan Loyd combined for 45 points as AS Monaco ground out a priceless 78-81 win at Virtus Segafredo Bologna in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague, keeping up its challenge for a top-four finish at the end of the regular season.
The result left both teams on a 16-10 record, but Monaco is on the ascend as the French side celebrated its fifth win on the trot while Virtus has now lost three in its last six games, having come agonizingly close to overhauling a 15-point deficit.
James, Loyd shined in Bologna
Virtus was undone by Monaco’s livewire backcourt pairing of Loyd and James, with the former scoring 12 points in the second quarter while the latter sank 9 in a row late in the game in the midst of a Virtus fightback which had turned the game on its head.
Loyd finished with a season-high 24 points and James netted 21, despite shooting 1-of-7 from downtown. However, James sank a clutch three-pointer down the stretch which kept Virtus at bay and ultimately paved the way for Monaco to have the last laugh.
James is now 29 points short of surpassing former Greek great Vassilis Spanoulis as the EuroLeague’s all-time top scorer, but that was the last thing on the 33-year-old playmaker’s mind after Monaco came out on top in a titanic tussle.
An important win for Monaco
James heaped praise on Virtus and stressed that keeping the winning streak going was all that mattered at this stage of the regular season.
“They are a playoff team for sure,” James said of the hard-working Virtus outfit. “It was one of those games that neither team wanted to lose and we were just able to put up some stops in the end.”
Commenting on the imminent takeover of the throne as the competition’s top scorer, he added: “I could have got a little bit closer as I missed some shots that I should have made, but I am trying not to think about it too much. I am just trying to win games and help my team as much as I can.”
Loyd credited the team for a spirited performance and for showing character when Virtus looked like pulling off what would have been a spectacular comeback.
“Everybody was amazing tonight,” he stated. “We found a way to weather the storm in the third and fourth quarter and I am just super proud of the whole team effort. One game at a time. Any time you get a big win like this is amazing and we will try to keep it going.”
Head coach Sasa Obradovic also refused to get carried away, although he acknowledged it was a valuable victory against one of the competition’s in-form teams.
“We lost some rhythm early in the third quarter and they hit some incredible shots,” he said. “It’s a great win against a direct rival for a top-four finish. We are going to be happy tonight, but the job is not done yet and we have to stay focused.”