Virtus Bologna rose above its injury crisis and took a rather unexpected road win on Thursday night from Real Madrid, 73-81, in Group C. The victory did much more than lift Virtus into a 1-1 tie in the standings. It made up for a trip-up at home the opening week and gave the Virtus faithful some hope in the project under new coach Bogdan Tanjevic. The signing of Dejan Koturovic just 24 hours before the game proved key for Virtus as the veteran center put up 14 points and gave his team the balance it direly needed in the paint, where the visitors outrebounded Madrid 26-41. His arrival also seemed to inspire Mladen Sekularac to his best performance, 15 points, in a black jersey. The go-to guy for the winners was steady Charlie Bellwith 19 points. For Madrid, teenage center Edu Hernandez-Sonseca led the way with 17 points and Alberto Herreros helped with 15.
Madrid started the game in dominant fashion, taking a 13-7 lead after 6 minutes. But that was all the hosts could do, because once Koturovic stepped on court, he sparked a reaction of the guests, who were leading by 2 at the break, 40-42. Koturovic had no rival under the boards, where he pulled 8 rebounds. Ruslan Avleev found his perfect complement in the paint, and he also added 7 more boards, together with 11 points.
After resumption, the zone defense ordered by Bogdan Tanjevic in the first half, continued in the second and the hosts could do little in front their 4,400 fans. It looked like Virtus would win again in Madrid as last season. The efficiency of Bell with 5 of 8 two-point shots, and the great board job by Koturovic together with Sekularac and Alessandro Frosini, completely broke the Madrid resistance with 3 minutes to go, 69-79.
Thursday, October 17, 2002