Gran Canaria can be extremely happy about where the team stands in the 7DAYS EuroCup heading into the holiday break after once again showing its strength and prevailing in a big-time matchup – thanks this time to the team's depth and great energy.
With plenty of both in the fourth quarter, Gran Canaria carried off a 100-80 home victory over Virtus Segafredo Bologna to gain supremacy in Group B. Gran Canaria is actually second in the standings behind Buducnost VOLI Podgorica, but the Spanish side knocked off Buducnost 76-83 a week ago in the Montenegro capital. Now, both teams are 6-2 with Virtus a game behind at 5-3.
"It's a great victory for us. We've been struggling here a bit lately, so it feels good to get a win here at home, right before Christmas," said A.J. Slaughter, who collected 16 points and 9 assists in the win, said. "Now, we can get some rest and enjoy our holidays."
Slaughter also swiped 3 steals as part of a very energetic and aggressive Gran Canaria defense that eventually wore down a Virtus team that was missing a sextet of pretty important figures: Isaia Cordinier, Niccolo Mannion, Kevin Hervey, Ekpe Udoh, Jakarr Sampson and Awudu Abass. All told, Gran Canaria defenders grabbed 11 steals while forcing 18 Virtus turnovers.
"We held our ground for three quarters, but we came here with very little gas in the tank," Virtus coach Sergio Scariolo said. "They played aggressive, so they deserved to win."
Gran Canaria was not missing as much of its regular production as "only" starters Andrew Albicy and Artem Pustovyi were unavailable. The hosts were able to distribute the burden among more players, with Gran Canaria starters scoring 52 of the team's 100 points. Virtus's starting five scored 61 of its 80 points, while 16 more came from Marco Belinelli of the bench, leaving just 3 for the rest of the team.
Gran Canaria also shot the lights out, connecting on 59.5% of its two-pointers and 15 of 32 three-pointers for 46.9%. Those 15 triples tied for sixth all-time for Gran Canaria in a EuroCup game. All those made shots eventually wore down Virtus, who could not get the stops needed to reel Gran Canaria in and challenge for the victory.
Combine the high shooting percentages, more energy from a supportive home crowd and a deeper lineup to the fact that Gran Canaria only committed 9 turnovers, and it really shouldn't be a surprise that Gran Canaria heads into the holiday break on a high note.