To say that Mitchell Watt and Victor Sanders were the stars of Umana Reyer Venice's come-from-behind victory over Buducnost VOLI Podgorica on Tuesday night would be an understatement. They combined to score half of their team’s points in the 72-67 victory with performances that outshined their contributions from the first three games of the season combined.
Watt tallied 25 points on 11-of-14 shooting plus 7 rebounds, 1 steal and 1 block to lead Reyer. He scored 9 points in the first quarter to give Reyer an early lead and 8 in the fourth as the hosts regained control.
Sanders scored 11 points, grabbed 2 rebounds, dished 3 assists – all to Watt, collected 4 steals and blocked 1 shot. At the start of the third quarter, after Watt made 2 free throws, Sanders scored on the fastbreak and followed that with basket-plus-foul to even the score at 40-40. Sanders came up big again in the fourth with assists to Watt for go-ahead baskets twice and a steal and score of his own.
The big showings came after rather quiet ones for the duo. Watt dominated in Round 1 with a double-double, but was held scoreless last week. His totals through three rounds were 26 points and a PIR of 29. Sanders accounted for 11 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals and 8 turnovers for a PIR of minus-1 combined in Rounds 1-3. They both had numbers against Buducnost that almost equaled those from the first three games.
What’s more, they both tied Reyer club records with their performances. Sanders’s 4 steals matched Ben Ortner and Mike Green for the most in a single game in club history. Ortner and Green both did so in the 2015-16 campaign. Watt tied his own record for most two-pointers in a game. The center’s 11 two-pointers evened his output from a November 2019 game against Partizan NIS Belgrade. No other Reyer player has ever made more than 9 twos in a game.
If Watt, who is now in his fifth season with Reyer, and Sanders, who joined the team from fellow Italian and EuroCup side Dolomiti Energia Trento over the summer, can maintain the form they showed against Buducnost, becomes a much more dangerous team.