Virtus stays undefeated against Joventut
Virtus Segafredo Bologna struck first in the 7DAYS EuroCup Quarterfinals by defeating Joventut Badalona 80-75 in Game 1 of their best-of-three series on Tuesday. Virtus remained undefeated in the 2020-21 EuroCup season and took the lead in the series, which now travels to Badalona, Spain, for Game 2 on Friday. Marco Belinelli led the winners with 24 points, Milos Teodosic added 11 and 10 assists and Julian Gamble got 10 points for Virtus. Xabi Lopez-Arostegui paced Joventut with 20 points, Ferran Bassas scored 14 and Ante Tomic 10 for the visitors. Joventut led most of the game, taking a 20-22 lead after 10 minutes, extending it to 41-44 at halftime and then to 49-56 right after the break. Virtus used a 9-0 run to get the lead, 75-68, with under 4 minutes left and remained ahead until the final buzzer.
Lopez-Arostegui got Joventut going with a couple of layups and Tomic added an off-balance basket for a 0-6 lead. Gamble and Teodosic stepped up for Virtus, bringing the hosts within 7-8. Bassas struck from downtown, but Awudu Abass downed a jumper and Alessandro Pajola scored off a steal to tie it at 11-11. Lopez-Arostegui and Simon Birgander rescued Joventut and Pau Ribas buried a triple for a 15-18 lead. Virtus found a go-to guy in Belinelli, but Conor Morgan and Nenad Dimitrijevic each scored down low for a 20-22 Joventut lead after 10 minutes. Josh Adams dunked early in the second quarter. Birgander downed a jump hook and Morgan hit a six-meter shot, which prompted Virtus to stop the game at 22-26. Giampaolo Ricci erased Dimtrijevic's jumper with a layup and Belinelli tied it at 28-28. Abass followed a triple with a layup, but Lopez-Arostegui struck three times from beyond the arc and Bassas added another for a 34-42 Joventut lead. Belinelli and Pajola got Virtus closer, 41-44, at halftime.
Ricci scored in penetration soon after the break. Vladimir Brodziansky found his first points, but Belinelli hit back-to-back triples to complete Virtus's comeback, 49-47. Tomic, Brodzianskiy and Bassas fueled a 0-9 Joventut run highlighted by Joel Parra's backdoor slam for a 49-56 lead. Parra kept pushing the visitors with a put-back layup and Bassas buried his fourth three-pointer, but Belinelli and Vince Hunter brought Virtus within 59-61. Teodosic and Gamble allowed the hosts to tie the game again, 63-63, after 30 minutes. Lopez-Arostegui stepped up with a fastbreak layup and a triple, but Teodosic matched that at the other end for a 68-68 tie. Ricci buried a corner triple and Hunter scored down low to give Virtus a 73-68 lead. Hunter capped a 9-0 run from the foul line, as Tomic and Bassas gave Joventut hope at 75-72. Belinelli nailed a fallaway jumper, but Tomic scored in the paint to keep the guests within 77-74 edge. Teodosic and Belinelli sealed the outcome from the foul line.
Alessandro Pajola came off the bench and provided plenty of energy and court sense, becoming Virtus's X-factor. He finished the game with 6 points on 4-of-4 free-throw shooting plus 1 rebound, 6 assists, 5 steals and 2 fouls drawn for a PIR of 14.
Xabi Lopez Arostegui buried his fourth three-pointer to give Joventut its last lead, 66-68. Milos Teodosic scored around the basket and fed Giampolo Ricci for a corner triple. Vince Hunter added a corner layup and free throws to give Virtus its biggest lead until then, 75-68.
Virtus had 11 steals, matching its second-best mark this season. Virtus committed only 10 turnovers and forced Joventut into 16. Those extra six possessions had a big impact on the outcome of the game.
Did you know?
Milos Teodosic had 10 assists, more than any other player in Game 1 of the Quarterfinals. It is one of the best assists marks in EuroCup Quarterfinals history. Only Stefan Markovic (12, Zenit St Petersburg, 2017), Alexey Shved (11, Khimki Moscow Region, 2017) and Mike Green (11, Paris Levallois, 2015) have had more assists than Teodosic in a quarterfinals game.
The two teams face each other again in Game 2 of their best-of-three series at Palau Olimpic de Badalona on Friday, March 26. It will be Virtus's first visit to Badalona since November 2003.
Tuesday, March 23, 2021