Virtus stays perfect to reach semis
Virtus Segafredo Bologna survived a late scare on the road to stay unbeaten and sweep into the semifinals by beating host Joventut Badalona 78-84 on Friday for a decisive 0-2 victory in their quarterfinal series. This marks the first time that Virtus reaches the 7DAYS EuroCup Semifinals after having missed out in its two previous participations, in 2003-04 and last season, because it was canceled before the quarterfinals could be played. Virtus dominated during the first 37 minutes, leading by as many as 22 points, but far from lowering its arms, Joventut charged back, led by Ferran Bassas, to even jump ahead in the final minutes of the last quarter. In the last minute, however, Milos Teodosic wrapped it up with a classy three-pointer to put his team in the semifinals. Kyle Weems and Vince Hunter led the winners with 18 points apiece, and Teodosic added 17 plus 6 assists. For Joventut, Bassas had his EuroCup personal best with 26 points, including 7 three-pointers, and Simon Birgander contributed 10.
Ante Tomic got the scoring going with free throws, and Amadeo Tessitori had a putback for the guests that tied it 2-2. Kyle Weems, who went scoreless in Game 1, netted 2 straight threes to keep Virtus ahead, but Tomic was everywhere for the hosts to keep the game close. Defenses took center stage and both teams had a hard time scoring, even if Virtus seemed to find the better options. Weems was already in double figures in minute 6, and turnovers were making the difference in the visitors' 14-19 advantage after 10 minutes. Nenad Dimitrijevic started making things happen for Joventut, Virtus used a three by Milos Teodosic to lengthen the lead to 16-25. Conor Morgan hit Joventut's first triple but Top 16 MVP Vince Hunter used a steal and dunk for the first double-digit lead, 21-31. Problems accumulated for the hosts as their top scorer from Game 1, swingman Xabi Lopez-Arostegui, left with an ankle injury while Tomic committed his third foul with 4 minutes left in the first half. Still the hosts used a 7-0 run capped by Vladimir Brodziansky's three to stay in the mix. Teodosic and Hunter snapped it with respective threes as the game reached the break with Virtus leading 31-43.
Virtus continued a 3-14 into the third quarter to lead 31-50 before Weems slammed to take it over 20 points. Bassas started pushing the hosts forward with 3 three-pointers, the last of them from almost half-court, and Joventut pulled within 54-64 after 30 minutes. Pau Ribas fed Simon Birgander for an alley-oop to start the fourth quarter, but Bassas continued leading Joventut's charge and soon fed Birgander for a dunk to make it 66-69. His 2 fee throws would tie it up 69-69 and Albert Ventura put the hosts ahead from long distance, 72-71, for the first time since the game's opening basket. Stefan Markovic pulled up for a three to ease the pressure on Virtus with a little over 2 minutes to go. Bassas soon free throws with 75 seconds but in the final minutes, Virtus's talent and experience shone through as Teodosic knocked down a classy three to put the game on ice, 75-81 with 26 seconds to go and send Virtus to the semifinals.
Semis for the first time
Even if Virtus is a team with winning tradition, this is its first time EuroCup Semifinals trip. In 2003-04, Virtus was eliminated in the regular season with a 3-7 record. Last season, Virtus had a 12-4 record and had qualified to the quarterfinals, but the season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic before the post-season could start.
Kyle Weems did not start the series too well, going scoreless in Game 1, when he had been averaging 11.1 points until then. On Friday, he was up to 12 points by halftime and finished as his team's top scorer alongside Top 16 MVP Vince Hunter, both having 18 points.
Teodosic, passing boss
Milos Teodosic has built a career on his passing wizardry, and on Friday he showed another one of those performances with 6 assists. With this figure, Teodosic increased his streak of games dishing three assists or more to 20. And counting...
Did you know...?
Ferran Bassas had a career-high game against Virtus. He pushed his personal scoring best in his EuroCup debut season to 26 points from 21. He also had 4 steals to improve his personal best of 2. He also scored 7 of the total 12 threes hit by Joventut, more than half of them, and almost single-handedly brought his team back into the game.
Virtus will start the semifinals on April 6 at home against the winner of the UNICS Kazan-Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar series, which moves to a third game next Wednesday. Former EuroCup champion Joventut ended a fine season with a 12-6 record.
Friday, March 26, 2021