Belinelli, big second quarter carry Virtus to win over Olimpija
Virtus Segafredo Bologna used a big second quarter to carry it to a 90-76 victory at home over Cedevita Olimpija Ljubljana to start the Top 16 and remain undefeated this season. Marco Belinelli scored 14 of his team-high 25 points in Virtus's 35-point second quarter in the Group G opener. Vince Hunter tallied 22 points and 9 rebounds for Virtus while Milos Teodosic added 13 points and 8 assists and Kyle Weems pitched in 13 points. Olimpija, which came into the game having won six of its last seven games, was paced by Jaka Blazic with 25 points while Kendrick Perry tallied 22 points in the loss.
Blazic got the guests on the board first with a steal and dunk with Weems completing a three-point play at the other end for Virtus's first lead, 3-2. Perry answered with 4 points as Olimpija went up 3-8. It was 8-10 when Olimpija was able to shut down the high-power home team for nearly 3 minutes and surged ahead 8-16 with Perry scoring 4 more points. Belinelli scored 3 points for Virtus, but Olimpija led 11-18 after 10 minutes. Mikael Hopkins opened the scoring in the second quarter and the lead was up to 11-20. The Virtus offense woke up with Weems three-pointers bookending 8 straight points from Belinelli in a 15-3 run for a 26-23 lead. Blazic responded with a three-pointer, but the Virtus machine was rolling with Belinelli converting a three-point play and hitting a triple, Hunter converting twice at the basket and Stefan Markovic draining back-to-back three-pointers as the margin grew to 46-31. It was 46-34 at the break.
Olimpija netted the first 4 points of the second half to get within 8 and a Rion Brown triple cut it to 49-42. That also started four straight three-pointers in the game with Teodosic twice hitting from deep to retain a 10-point lead. Neither team scored for more than 2 minutes and the gap was 60-48 after Josh Adams's triple for his first points of the night. The score was 60-49 after 30 minutes. Belinelli opened the final frame with a triple and the gap was back down to 11 points after a Blazic three-pointer and Edo Muric free throws, 66-55. Hunter converted an and-one and Adams drained another triple and the lead swelled to 76-60 at the halfway point of the quarter. Olimpija would not get closer than 13 points the rest of the way.
Middle quarters bombers
Virtus shot 37.5% from three-point range, but the winners excelled in the second and third quarters. After missing all eight attempts from deep in the first frame, Marco Belinelli, Kyle Weems and Stefan Markovic each made 2 triples as Virtus converted 6 of 11 three-pointers in the second quarter. The team then shot 4-for-9 in the third quarter to lay the foundation for the win.
Belinelli excels in premiere
Marco Belinelli showed all his class in his first game in the EuroCup as he led the way with 25 points. Belinelli made 5 of 9 two-point shots, 3 of 5 three-pointers and 6 of 10 free throws to go with 5 rebounds, 2 assists and 9 fouls drawn for an index rating of 29.
Virtus connected on 59.4% of its two-point attempts and out-rebounded Olimpija 39-30.
Olimpija will return home for the next round of action and host Buducnost VOLI Podgorica on Tuesday, January 19. Virtus will next head on the road and travel to France to play JL Bourg en Bresse the following evening.
Wednesday, January 13, 2021