Virtus prevails at home against Ulm
Virtus Segafredo Bologna claimed its second victory of the 7DAYS EuroCup season by beating visiting ratiopharm Ulm 87-76 at the Paladozza on Wednesday night. The Italian champs trailed 29-39 midway through the second quarter and 40-44 at halftime before using a strong third quarter in which it held Ulm to just 10 points to grab the lead for good. Virtus remained perfect with two wins in as many games to continue atop of Group B, while the guests fell to 0-2. Mam Jaiteh posted a career-high 20 points plus 5 rebounds in just 21 minutes to lead Virtus, Jakarr Sampson followed him with 15 points and 9 boards for a PIR of 25, Marco Belinelli had 15 and 5 assists and Kyle Weems and Kevin Hervey added 10 apiece for the home side. Semaj Chirston paced Ulm with 14 points, 6 rebounds and 9 assists and Cristiano Felicio contributed 13 points and 7 boards. Karim Jallow and Nicolas Bretzel also reached double-figures in scoring with 11 points apiece in the losing effort.
Virtus found easy points in the early going, as Hervey set an 8-5 edge after 3 minutes. Felicio showed up inside twice and then stole a ball to feed Christon who provided a three-point play that put Ulm in front, 8-12. Belinelli took over with 5 points in a row to get Virtus back in charge, which set up an exciting period in which both squads swapped fast buckets and alternated leads. Per Guenther broke the trend with a triple and Bretzel followed with 4 points to close the first quarter with Ulm ahead, 23-28.
Christoph Phillipps and Christon made it 25-32 right after the second started and even though Jaiteh contributed a three-point play, Virtus was unable to find a smooth offense like it did in the previous quarter. The visitors took advantage of that to reach a double-digit margin after 15 minutes, 29-39, behind a three by Jallow and a nice turnaround jumper by Felicio. Alessandro Pajola stepped up in defense for the home team as did Sampson in offense, as the Italian champs came to life again when a three-pointer by Belinelli made it all square, 39-39. Ulm managed to hold off a Virtus rally with a three-point dagger by Christon that sent the game to the locker room with the visitors leading 40-44.
Weems and Jaiteh needed just a couple of possessions to tie it again, 44-44, right after the break. The former added another 4 points in a row before Hervey joined in to complete the rally and put the hosts ahead, 50-47, which forced an Ulm timeout. A three-point play by Belinelli capped a 9-0 run, and despite Philipp Herkenhoff soon replying with a three-pointer, the hosts looked much more confident. The visitors continued struggling to keep the ball safe in offense and Virtus took advantage of that to build a 58-50 edge. A terrific defensive play in which Hervey and Isaia Cordinier combined for two blocks in a row and a fastbreak dunk helped Virtus enter the last quarter with a comfortable margin, 62-54.
Sampson opened fire in the final stanza to boost a 6-0 run that put the visitors’ back to the wall at 68-54. Felicio tried to reanimate his team, but Virtus had already taken the reins. A three-pointer by Milos Teodosic followed by an assist to Cordinier made it 76-60 with 5 minutes remaining. Still, Ulm refused to surrender. A 4-12 run capped by a three by Fedor Zugic reduced the disadvantage to 80-74 entering crunch time. The guests couldn’t get closer, though as Ulm turned it over twice to allow Weems and Belinelli to throw down fastbreak dunks that made it 84-74 in the last minute to seal the outcome.
Sampson plays big role as a rookie
Jakarr Sampson just played his second 7DAYS EuroCup game, but he seems to have adjusted to the competition quite fast. After scoring 11 points in his debut night against Frutti Extra Bursaspor, he was 1 rebound shy of a double-double against ratiopharm Ulm in Round 2. Sampson posted 15 points and 9 rebounds – 5 on offense, to which he added 2 assists, 1 steal and 2 blocks, which allowed him to register a game-high PIR of 25. But what was more impressive was that he managed to build his contribution in just 16:45 on court. He found good help in another Virtus frontcourt player, Mam Jaiteh, who registered a career-high 20 points in less than 21 minutes in his first EuroCup game this season.
Defense, turnovers made the difference for Virtus
Virtus Segafredo Bologna had a tough entrance to the game, as it trailed for almost all of the first half, even with a double-digit disadvantage, 29-39, after 15 minutes. It was then that Alessandro Pajola completed a couple of defensive plays that seemed to wake up the Italian champs. Virtus held its opponent to just 15 points in the following 15 minutes, which proved crucial in getting the confidence and the lead back to the home side. Ulm’s problems on offense also helped, as the visitors recorded 26 turnovers, which Virtus transformed into 30 points -against Ulm’s 20. Given that the final difference was 11 points, it’s not a surprise that Coach Jaka Lakovic pointed out that statistical fact as one of the keys to the defeat.
Everybody contributed for Ulm
Despite losing the game in the second half, ratiopharm Ulm showed it can become a fierce competitor for almost any team in the next games. The visitors used an 11-player rotation in which the player who played the most was Semaj Christon (27:28 minutes). He was the top contributor of his team with 14 points, 6 rebounds and 9 assists, but he was not left alone as every other player that saw playing time scored. Even Krimmer Moritz, who played just 5:38, hit a couple of free throws that filled the team’s stat sheet.
Wednesday, October 27, 2021