Virtus advances to playoff rounds
Virtus Segafredo Bologna claimed a ticket to the 7DAYS EuroCup Quarterfinals by topping Buducnost VOLI Podgorica 89-99 in the Montenegrin capital on Wednesday. Virtus improved to 4-0 in Group G and is 14-0 on the EuroCup season. Buducnost dropped to 1-3, but remains alive to reach the next round. Milos Teodosic led the winners with 26 points, Kyle Weems added 14, Julian Gamble scored 10 and Stefan Markovic dished 13 assists for Virtus. Justin Cobbs paced Buducnost with 17 points, Willie Reed and Melvin Ejim each added 16 and Nikola Ivanovic had 14 for the hosts, who led 43-37 late in the first half. Virtus used a rain of three-pointers to grab a 47-53 margin at halftime, extended it to 65-77 after 30 minutes and never looked back.
Giampaolo Ricci got Virtus going with a layup, which Ejim bettered with a three-point play. Teodosic followed a basket-plus-foul with a jumper, but Danilo Nikolic hit a jumper, Reed dunked and Fedor Zugic struck from downtown to give the hosts a 10-9 edge. Virtus found a go-to guy in Gamble, who scored three times in the paint for a 14-15 lead. Reed stepped up with back-to-back layups and Zugic added a fast break basket for a 20-17 edge. Ejim and Ivanovic helped Buducnost to a 25-23 edge after 10 minutes. Zoran Nikolic took over with a power layup early in the second quarter, but Josh Adams and Amedeo Tessitori kept Virtus within 29-28. Reed rescued the hosts with a couple of three-point plays. Teodosic hit a triple and Tessitori followed a layup with a dunk to make it 36-35. Zugic nailed a baseline jumper and got help from Ivanovic, prompting the guests to call timeout at 43-37. Markovic, Teodosic and Weems each buried a three-pointer to put Virtus in charge, 45-48. Markovic and Teodosic boosted the margin to 47-53 at halftime.
Amar Alibegovic joined the three-point shootout, Markovic and Weems each added a layup and Julian Gamble dunked to make it a double-digit game, 51-62. Zugic stepped up with a layup and Cobbs hit a triple, but Teodosic and Alibegovic restored a 56-67 Virtus lead. Ejim followed a layup with a three-pointer, but he didn't find much help around. Meanwhile, Teodosic, Weems and Ricci gave Virtus fresh air at 63-73. Josh Adams and Hunter boosted the margin to 65-77 after 30 minutes. Weems swished a wild three-pointer early in the fourth quarter. Zoran Nikolic and Cobbs tried to change things for Buducnost and Suad Sehovic struck from downtown to give the hosts hope, 76-85, with less than 6 minutes left. Reed hit a jump hook and Cobbs added a jumper, but Teodosic kept pushing Virtus. Dunks by Alibegovic and Weems helped Virtus seal the win in style.
Stefan Markovic helped Virtus control the game at all times with a fine all-around performance. Markovic finished the game with 7 points, 7 rebounds, 13 assists and 3 steals for a PIR of 20. He was 1 assist shy of his personal-best mark in the EuroCup; Markovic had 14 for Zenit St Petersburg against Unicaja Malaga on November 9, 2016.
Buducnost got its biggest lead, 43-37, late in the first half. It didn't last long, however, as Stefan Markovic and Kyle Weems each buried a three-pointer and Milos Teodosic struck twice from downtown in a 4-16 run that gave Virtus the lead for good, 47-53.
Virtus shot the ball with excellent percentages, hitting 61.2% of its shots inside the arc and 45% from downtown. That allowed Virtus to get 25 assists - 9 more than its opponents. Buducnost committed 16 turnovers, too.
Did you know?
Virtus is now on a 15-game winning streak, which started in Top 16 Round 6 last season. It is tied for the third-best mark in the competition; Khimki Moscow Region won 15 consecutive games in the 2013-14 season and Valencia Basket did the game in 2018-19. Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar went on a 20-game winning streak twice.
Both teams return to 7DAYS EuroCup action in early March. Virtus visits Cedevita Olimpija Ljubljana on Tuesday, March 2. A day later, Buducnost faces JL Bourg en Bresse at Ekinox.
Wednesday, February 3, 2021