Virtus Bologna has its name among the teams to watch in the entire Euroleague after registering its third solid victory in succession on Wednesday, 86-70 over visiting Idea Slask Wroclaw in Group C. The explosiveness of the Virtus offense came clear as it turned a two-point margin into an 18-point comfort zone over a few minutes in the third quarter. And the versatility of that offense was evident in six players reaching double-figures: Charlie Bell with 18 points, Alessandro Frosini with 12, Dejan Koturovic and Ruslan Avleev with 11 each, Derrick Dial and Mladen Sekularac with 10 each. Virtus also ruled the boards, with Avleev getting 10 amid a 44-30 rebounding advantage for the hosts, whose record is now 3-1. Slask, which drops to 1-3, got 13 points from Maceij Zielinksi, 11 each from Randy Holcomb and Dominik Tomczyk and 10 from Dainius Adomaitis.
The first quarter showed that Idea was still confident after its big road win at Madrid last week. The visitors stayed close to Virtus the whole 10 minutes, each side responding basket-for-basket to the other. Slask's early game plan was to get the ball inside to exploit center Sasha Koul's physical mismatch against the Virtus front line. The big man scored the initial 6 points for Slask, which Virtus answered by trying to quicken the tempo of the game. Slask had its own answer, however, to being down 13-14 after 7 minutes. The Polish champs proceeded to outscore their hosts 2-8 by letting Randy Holcomb go one-on-one. Virtus started helping on defense, and at the other end Charlie Bell and Derrick Dial each had a basket as the hosts pulled back to within 1 point, 21-22, after 10 minutes.
Virtus continued its run into the second quarter with a pair of three-pointers being thrown down by center Dejan Koturovic and forward Ruslan Avleev, giving the home team its first important lead, at 29-25. Things would get better for the hosts as a basket by Antoine Rigaudeau soon stretched the lead to 36-29. Andrius Gedraitis tried to keep Slask in the game, and together with forward Pawel Wieikera stopped the damage by outscoring Virtus 0-7 to tie the score at 36-36. Virtus managed to take small leads toward the end of the quarter, but Slask continued to create problems, particulary with Holcomb driving one-on-one against Koturovic. Dainius Adomaitis answerd a Rigaudeau basket near the end, and Virtus was lef with a four-point advantage, 43-39, to defend at halftime.
Slask tried a 2-3 zone defense in the third quarter, but Virtus made that decision pay with a 5-0 as Mladen Sekularac scoring from the perimeter to make it 48-39. Slask came back again, using fastbreak points for an 0-7 run to get within 46-48, but that would be the visitors last hurrah. Virtus started getting aggressive in defense, and the resulting turnovers led to bunches of points in transition. Then 2 triples by Bell obliged Slask to change defenses. Alessandro Frosini and Dial were soon adding their points and the Virtus run hit 14-3 as the lead swelled to 16 points, 67-51. Slask could only manage a couple free throws in response and after 30 minutes, Virtus was rather suddenly in total control of a 71-53 scoreboard. Virtus, too, chose a zone defense to deny the Polish champions any inside baskets, but neither did the visitors have enough three-pointers in them to make the long way to the buzzer any more promising. Virtus managed the lead until the end and took its rightful spot near the top of Group C.
Wednesday, October 30, 2002