Semifinals Breakdown: Virtus vs UNICS

Apr 05, 2021 by Print
Semifinals Breakdown: Virtus vs UNICS

The top two seeds for the playoffs square off in this 7DAYS EuroCup Semifinals series. Virtus Segafredo Bologna is undefeated on the season and outscored its opponents by 79 points in its six Top 16 Group G games. Former EuroCup champion UNICS Kazan went 5-1 in Group H and outscored its opponents by 76 points.

Virtus's many points in the paint

Virtus's success has been partially built on its tremendous play closer to the basket; Coach Sasa Djordjevic's team has made the third-most two-pointers in the EuroCup this season (22.0 per game) while shooting at the second-highest percentage (59.9%). Six Virtus players are shooting better than 60% on twos and three of them are ranked in the competition's top 10 this season: Amedeo Tessitori is sixth (69.4%), Kyle Weems is eighth (67.1%), Vince Hunter is 10th (64.5%) and not far behind in 11th is Amar Alibegovic (63.6%). Defensively, Virtus has allowed the fewest twos (15.6 per game) with the lowest shooting percentage (47.1%) and is fourth in blocks (3.3 bpg.). UNICS is 18th among the 24 teams this season in two-point accuracy (50.5%). Jordan Morgan (56.7%) is the only UNICS player with at least 20 two-point attempts and at least 54% made. UNICS is in the middle of the pack on defense, having allowed opponents to make 53.2% of twos. The UNICS bigs will have to be at their best in this series to make sure Virtus does not control the paint. 

UNICS is aces in offensive rebounding

While Virtus has been dominant in terms of shooting in the paint and UNICS less so, the flip side of that is UNICS ranking among the best teams both in offensive rebounding and denying opponents second-chance points, while Virtus is the opposite. UNICS is third with 12.5 offensive rebounds per game and has allowed the fewest (8.9). Jordan Morgan (2.89) and John Brown (2.63) are third and fifth, respectively, in offensive boards per game. Conversely, Virtus is second with 26.1 defensive rebounds per game. Virtus's 8.6 offensive rebounds per game are 20th in the EuroCup this season and its 12.2 allowed are fifth-most.

All-time EuroCup greats

This series features two all-time EuroCup record holders. Virtus playmaker Stefan Markovic tops the charts with 693 career assists, which will stand for a long time; the man in second place, Dmitry Khvostov, has 404. Markovic is also the career leader in steals with 214, which is 47 more than Mire Chatman in second place. He is second in career games played with 139, which is five fewer than the all-time leader, Rafa Martinez. UNICS guard Jamar Smith became the all-time EuroCup leader in three-pointers made earlier this season with 256. He is now 33 triples ahead of second-placed Martinez. Smith is second on the all-time scoring charts with 1,330 career points and trailed Bojan Dubljevic by 115 for the top spot. Smith is 10th in games played (105) and his teammates Kostas Kaimakoglou and Evgeny Kolesnikov are seventh (118) and 15th (99), respectively. Kaimakoglou is ninth on the all-time rebounding charts with 435 and needs 5 more to catch Radoslav Rancik for eighth. 

The Italian/Russian connection

UNICS has four players on its roster with experience playing in Italy, including forward Okaro White, with made his professional debut with Virtus in 2014-15. Jordan Morgan started his pro career in Italy with Virtus Rome that same season. John Brown's entire professional career had been in Italy prior to this season; he played a season each with Rome and Treviso and two with Brindisi. And Jordan Theodore played his lone season in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague with AX Armani Exchange Milan in 2017-18. He was a teammate there of current Virtus player Awudu Abass. Likewise, Virtus has four players with Russian basketball experience. Milos Teodosic spent six seasons with CSKA Moscow, during which he reached six EuroLeague Final Fours and won the 2016 championship. His backcourt mate Stefan Markovic played for Zenit St Petersburg in 2016-17 and the next two seasons with Khimki Moscow Region. He was a teammate of UNICS point guard Pavel Sergeev at Zenit. Josh Adams played his first professional season in Russia with Avtodor Saratov in 2016-17 alongside his current teammate Vince Hunter. They were teammates there of UNICS players Evgeny Kolesnikov and Artem Klimenko.