Virtus blasts Antwerp to remain undefeated
Virtus Segafredo Bologna defeated Telnet Antwerp Giants 76-95 at Lotto Arena on Tuesday to close out the first half of the regular season with a 5-0 record atop Group C. The visitors took an early 3-15 lead thanks to Josh Adams, who scored 11 points without a miss in the first 3 minutes. Even though Antwerp fought back and got within 41-45 right after halftime, Virtus found its offensive rhythm and punished the opponent’s defense with 52 second-half points. Adams led six Virtus scorers in double figures with a career-high 24 points. Awudu Abass and Milos Teodosic had 15 each, followed by Amar Alibegovic, Vince Hunter and Amedeo Tessitori with 12, 10 and 10 points, respectively. Ibrahima Faye collected 16 points and 11 rebounds for a career-high PIR of 24, while "Speedy" Smith poured in 16 points plus 10 assists as Antwerp remained winless. Jalen Jenkins added 15 points and Vrenz Bleijenbergh 14 on 4-of-8 three-point shooting in defeat.
The visitors started at full throttle, holding Antwerp to just 3 points in the first 4 minutes. Meanwhile, Adams nailed a couple of threes and added a three-point play and a nice dunk to boost Virtus to a 3-15 lead. Back-to-back triples by Bleijenberch and Smith woke the hosts up, but Adams kept punishing from the perimeter to protect a double-digit margin for the visitors at 11-21. The joy didn’t last for long though, as Virtus had just one basket after Adams left the court and allowed an 8-2 run that made it 19-23 at the end of the first quarter. Neither team was able to find its offensive rhythm early in the second, as only Jalen Jenkins and Abass managed to score for each team to set a 21-25 score after 14 minutes. Teodosic decided to take over then, collecting a couple of buckets and adding an assist to Hunter, but the hosts weathered the storm thanks to Faye inside and Bleijenberch outside. A three by Smith made it 30-33. Teodosic responded twice from downtown to keep Virtus in front. Hunter and Tessitori rocked inside to extend the margin to double digits at halftime, 33-43.
Bleijenberch came up strong after the break with back-to-back threes and a layup to bring his team within 41-45. Virtus didn’t panic as Adams and Kyle Weems replied from deep and Hunter contributed from the line to regain a safe margin, 42-55, midway through the third quarter. The teams traded points for a while, which benefited Virtus. A corner three and a nice left-handed hook shot by Alibegovic made it 50-66, prompting an Antwerp timeout. It didn’t work for the hosts, as Teodosic drained a three to enter the last quarter with Virtus clearly in charge, 54-71. The hosts tried to spark a reaction through Jenkins and Dennis Donkor, who hit one each from downtown to keep Virtus in sight. After Coach Djordjevic called for a timeout, Abass and Adams showed up to make it a 20-point game, 64-84, with 5 minutes remaining. More triples by Alibegovic and Abass sealed the outcome after that, allowing Virtus to make it five wins out of five games.
Josh Adams completed his best game so far in the EuroCup; he finished with career-highs in points (24) and PIR (32). He pushed his team to an early 3-15 lead, tallying 11 points without a miss in just 3 minutes, which helped Virtus to take control of the game for good. When the hosts threatened to come back after halftime, he combined with Kyle Weems from the three-point line to rebuild a double-digit lead.
Offense matters too
The visitors scored 52 second-half points to take off after Antwerp came back early in the third quarter. Virtus executed as it wanted and had six scorers in double digits. Its accuracy from behind the arc in the last 20 minutes (9 of 14) gave Virtus its highest scoring mark of the season so far.
Antwerp dominated the offensive glass by grabbing 17 rebounds under Virtus’s rim. Nevertheless, it wasn’t a factor in the end as it could only turn them into 11 second-chance points.
Both teams will play at home in Round 6. Antwerp will look for its first win of the season against Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar on Wednesday, November, 4, while Segafredo Virtus Bologna hosts Lietkabelis Panevezys the same day.
Tuesday, October 27, 2020