It is hard to argue that there is a better performer, or a more improved player, entering the second half of the 7DAYS EuroCup Top 16 than Vince Hunter. Virtus Segafredo Bologna's center has shined in the last three games, doubling his averages in points, rebounds and performance index rating compared to the regular season, while helping Virtus remain unbeaten this season.
Not much has fazed Virtus during the Top 16 so far, as the team has stretched its perfect run to 13 games total. In this phase, that includes three victories so far by an average margin of 16.0 points. Hunter's performances have been among the reasons that Virtus's continuing run has become even more impressive.
After posting 6.8 points, 2.9 rebounds and an average PIR of 8.5 during the regular season, Hunter has been nearly unstoppable in the first three Top 16 games. He leads the Top 16 in PIR with 27.7 on average, while posting 19.3 points and 8.0 rebounds, ranking fifth in each of those two categories.
The 26-year-old big man's performance boost has come with increased playing time. After spending 12.51 minutes on the floor in the regular season, Hunter is playing 24:40 during the Top 16. And there is a good reason for it. Hunter had a solid 60.5% accuracy on two-point shots in the regular season, but he has increased that to 73.1% in the Top 16, even making 2 of his 3 attempts from three-point range.
After only three games, Hunter has already pulled down 24 rebounds, almost matching his regular season total of 29 in 10 games.
It all has led to his name being atop of the performance index rating charts for the Top 16, both for total PIR (83) and average (27.7 per game).
Entering this phase, his 20-point performance in regular season Round 4 was Hunter's only game with more than 10 points. But he announced himself in the Top 16 opener, a home win over Cedevita Olimpija Ljubljana in which he led Virtus with 22 points on 9-for-12 two-point shooting and pulling down 9 rebounds, including 5 offensive boards, for a PIR of 29.
It was no aberration, either. A week later, Hunter topped most of those numbers in a road win over JL Bourg en Bresse when he collected 23 points, on 7-for-11 two-point shooting, and pulled down 11 rebounds in another victory.
Hunter had a PIR 27 in Round 2, and matched it again last week in a comfortable home win over Buducnost VOLI Podgorica, when he had 13 points without missing a single shot - 3 two-pointers, 1 three and 4 free throws – along with 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks and 3 fouls drawn. It was a perfect performance, without a single stat that would deduct an index rating point.
Only three players have scored and averaged more points so far in the Top 16 than Hunter. He has 58 points through three rounds, after totaling 68 in 10 regular season games, and all while making 72.4% of all of his field goals.
This week, Hunter has a chance to continue his hot form on the road against Buducnost as Virtus travels to the Montenegrin capital knowing a victory would already secure it a place in the quarterfinals.