UNICS hands Virtus first loss of season
In one of the most thrilling games in 7DAYS EuroCup Semifinals history, UNICS Kazan stayed in the race to reach the finals by downing Virtus Segafredo Bologna 85-81 at Basket Hall Kazan in Game 2 of their best-of-three semifinals series on Friday. The series is now tied at 1-1 with Virtus set to host Game 3 next Wednesday. UNICS handed Virtus its first loss of the season, stopping the visitors' 20-game winning streak. Isaiah Canaan led UNICS with 19 points. Jordan Theodore added 15, Okaro White 12 and Jordan Morgan 11. Marco Belinelli led Virtus with 33 points. Milos Teodosic added 11 while Vince Hunter had 10 for the guests. Canaan and Nate Wolters paced UNICS to a 24-16 lead after 10 minutes. Belinelli brought Virtus within 3 points before Canaan and Artem Klimenko boosted in front by 47-37 at halftime. UNICS boosted its margin to 66-48 late in the third quarter but Virtus rallied to tie 81-81 on a late layup by Teodosic. Jamar Smith hit 4 of 4 free throws in crunch time to assure UNICS a season-extending win.
Teodosic got Virtus going with a driving layup that Canaan bettered with a corner triple. Amedeo Tessitori followed a dunk with a put-back basket and Giampaolo Ricci added a backdoor layup for a 5-8 Virtus lead. White scored in penetration, Canaan struck from downtown, and Theodore hit a jumper as UNICS regained a 12-10 lead. Nate Wolters followed a three-pointer with a fastbreak layup but Awudu Abass and Julian Gamble kept Virtus within 18-14 after 10 minutes. Wolters bettered Belinelli's layup with his second triple and John Brown added a basket-plus-free throw for a 24-16 UNICS lead. Hunter dunked and Ricci struck from beyond the arc in a 0-7 run that Belinelli capped with a fastbreak layup. John Holland and Theodore rescued the hosts with a three-pointer apiece, getting help from Morgan to restore a 33-26 UNICS margin. Teodosic stepped up with a layup and Belinelli added a three-point play for Virtus, but Jamar Smith kept his team ahead, 37-31. Belinelli struck from downtown before Canaan followed a triple with a coast-to-coast layup and Klimenko dunked to boost UNICS in front 47-37 at halftime.
Stefan Markovic buried a three-pointer soon after the break for Virtus. White answered with a layup-plus-foul. Morgan followed a huge dunk with a jump hook en route to a 15-point UNICS advantage, 58-43. Brown, Hunter and Kyle Weems each dunked but Canaan scored again and White broke the game open, 66-48. Belinelli reeled off 12 quick points, including 3 consecutive triples, but Canaan and Theodore restored a 71-61 UNICS lead after 30 minutes. Morgan scored in the low post early in the fourth quarter and Canaan added a three-point play that gave UNICS fresh air at 76-61. Belinelli had 6 points in an 0-7 run that restored hope for Virtus at 76-68 with 6 minutes left. Hunter bettered Theodore's layup with a triple and Belinelli forced UNICS to call timeout at 80-75 with 3 minutes to go. Alessandro Pajola buried a baseline jumper, Brown split free throws and Belinelli scored in penetration as Virtus closed within 81-79. Teodosic tied the game 81-81 with a driving layup with 19.9 seconds left. Smith drew a foul and made free throws for an 83-81 UNICS lead with 12.6 seconds remaining. Belinelli picked up a fatal turnover and Smith sealed the outcome from the foul line.
Theodore played physical and both ends and was UNICS's x-factor in Game 2. He finished the game with 15 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals and 6 fouls drawn for a PIR of 19 in an all-around performance.
Milos Teodosic tied the game with a driving layup, 81-81, with 19.9 seconds left. Virtus fouled Jamar Smith, who calmly hit both free throws. The guests called timeout but Belinelli picked up a turnover, which allowed Smith to draw another foul and seal the outcome from the free throw line.
Offensive rebounds and turnovers made the difference in this game. UNICS pulled down 17 offensive rebounds and limited turnovers to just 8. On the other hand, Virtus had 10 offensive rebounds and picked up as many as 15 turnovers, including the final one by Belinelli in crunch time.
Did you know?
Virtus saw its 20-game winning streak come to an end. It matched the longest winning streak in competition history. Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar had a 20-game winning streak twice – from the 2013 EuroCup Championship Game until the 2014-15 quarterfinals and again throughout the 2017-18 campaign.
Virtus hosts Game 3 of this exciting semifinals series at Virtus Segafredo Arena on Wednesday, April 14. Virtus fights for the chance to reach the EuroCup Finals for the first time. UNICS already reached the Finals in 2011 and 2014.
Friday, April 9, 2021