Virtus makes EuroCup return with win at Ulm
Segafredo Virtus Bologna made its return to the EuroCup a winning one with a 79-92 victory on the road at ratiopharm Ulm in Group A on Wednesday. The visitors used a 0-14 run that bridged the third and fourth quarters to take control for good and the home team never got closer than 6 the rest of the way. Kyle Weems scored 18 points for the winners, Vince Hunter netted 17, Stefan Markovic tallied 16 points, 8 assists and 3 steals, Giampaolo Ricci added 15 points and Julian Gamble posted 10 points, 7 rebounds and 3 blocks. Virtus dominated the rebounds 28-40. Zoran Dragic paced the Ulm attack with 15 points, Tyler Harvey and Derek Willis had 13 each, Grant Jerrett 10 and Killian Hayes contributed 8 points and 9 assists.
Virtus took control early as Ulm struggled to make shots from the perimeter, while Weems scored twice to help the visitors to a 0-8 edge after 4 minutes. Ulm missed 5 shots from downtown before Zoran Dragic connected from behind the arc. Once Ulm found its stroke, it continued to rally and took its first lead, 15-12, on Harvey's layup plus foul. The margin reached 6 before a Gamble tip-in to end the first quarter made it 20-16. Gamble kept Virtus close and Frank Gaines pushed the visitors in front, 23-24, with free throws. The lead ping-ponged back-and-forth over the ensuing possessions until Virtus pushed ahead to 37-43 with some strong play by Markovic. Zoran Dragic tied it once more before Vince Hunter lifted Virtus to 43-46 at the break. Ulm scored the first 7 points of the second half, but Markovic soon got Virtus back in front. The home team was unable to score in the final 4 minutes of the third quarter, during which Virtus reeled off 12 unanswered points for a 55-65 cushion. The pace picked up in the fourth, but Virtus remained in control. Hayes buried a three to give Ulm hope at 70-77 with 5 minutes remaining. A three by Harvey made it a 6-point game with 3 minutes to go only to see Markovic step up with another great assist and a key steal to help Virtus put the game on ice.
Markivic's almost milestone
Virtus playmaker Stefan Markovic was the star of the night with 16 points on 3-of-5 three-point shooting, 8 assists and 3 steals. His performance index rating of 25 was the highest of any player in the game. Markovic, the EuroCup's career leader in assists, almost had a major milestone in the game. With just over a minute to play, Markovic fed Giampaolo Ricci in the paint and the forward scored with a nifty move. The scorekeeper originally credited Markovic with an assist on the play, which would have been the 500th of his EuroCup career. He soon reversed his decision - and rightly so, since Ricci's move had more to do with the basket than Markovic's pass, leaving the Virtus playmaker able to get his 500th assist at home next week.
Virtus blocked 6 shots compared to Ulm's 2. Together with that, Virtus made 62.3% of its two-pointers (33 of 53), while Ulm made a 41.9% (13 of 31). The visitors, who also controlled the glass 28-40, can attribute their victory - at least in part - to those numbers.
The teenager's impressive debut
Ulm guard Killian Hayes acquited himself well to the EuroCup in his debut with 8 points, 9 assists and 3 steals. The 18-year-old's shooting was subpar (1 of 3 two-pointers, 2 of 6 on threes), but he was otherwise effective n both ends of the court, showing why big things are expected of him in the future. It was a splendid debut.
Virtus will look to remain undefeated when it hosts EuroCup debutant Maccabi Rishon LeZion on Wednesday, October 9. Ulm will target its first win on the road when it visits MoraBanc Andorra at the same tip-off time.
Wednesday, October 2, 2019