Buducnost rallies past Virtus in thriller
Buducnost VOLI Podgorica claimed an 86-82 win against Virtus Segafredo Bologna at Moraca on Wednesday night that improved its record to 3-0 to stay atop Group B. The home team was down 37-48 at halftime and needed 28 minutes to get its first lead, but used a strong fourth quarter led by Justin Cobbs to take a narrow lead in the last 5 minutes that Virtus could not overturn. Milos Teodosic had a shot to tie the game with 8 seconds to go, but he missed under the basket to allow Cobbs to seal the outcome from the foul line on the last possession. Cobbs paced the winners with 23 points and 8 assists for a PIR of 29. He found great help from Willie Reed, who tallied 21 points and 6 rebounds in 27 minutes, and Petar Popovic, who posted 12 points and 5 assists in 19. The visitors, who dropped to 2-1, had Marco Belinelli and Kevin Hervey as the team’s top-scorers with 15 apiece, while Amedeo Tessitori collected 13 points and 6 rebounds in the losing effort.
A great defensive effort, which led to 3 steals from as many Buducnost offenses, boosted the visitors to an early 0-8 lead. Reed opened fire for Buducnost, but a three-pointer by Kyle Weems and an inside basket by Tessitori kept Virtus ahead 3-13. Milos Teodosic looked comfortable as he first nailed a three then fed Tessitori to retain a double-digit margin, 10-20. But when he left the court, Buducnost reacted strongly. Threes by DJ Seeley and Popovic reduced the gap to 22-25, and even though Belinelli closed the first quarter with a buzzer-beater from downtown, the hosts were already back in the game, 22-28.
Belinelli kept rocking right after the break and found a helpful companion in Isaia Cordinier; they combined for 10 points in the blink of an eye to restore a safe margin for the guests, 28-40. The hosts used a timeout to rearrange themselves and increase their defensive intensity, which helped spark an 8-0 run that trimmed the deficit to 37-42. Virtus’s scoring drought finally came to an end with a tap-in by Harvey. Alessandro Pajola joined in with 4 points in a row to send the game to the locker rooms with Virtus ahead 37-48.
Both squads excelled on offense right after halftime, scoring on each possession. Jacob Wiley stepped up big and had 6 points in just 2 minutes to make it 45-52. He added a block that preceded a monster fastbreak dunk by Reed that brought the fans to their feet. Virtus relied on Harvey in offense, while Buducnost found 5 quick points by Cobbs to get within 52-56 midway through the third quarter. Even though Pajola showed up from deep to cool it down, Popovic boosted the hosts with a couple of steals and 5 points in a row that granted Buducnost its first lead, 62-61, after 28 minutes. Virtus didn’t tremble, though, as Hervey, Niccolo Mannion and Belinelli strung together three-pointers that allowed the visitors to enter the last quarter with a 64-70 edge.
Popovic scored again to bring Buducnost closer, but that was the only bucket from either team for the first 2 minutes. Reed provided a three-point play and Cobbs netted a pair of jumpers and a couple of free throws to make it a one-possession game, 75-76, with 5 minutes remaining. The rally was not over yet, though, as Cobbs provided another point from the foul line then fed Marko Jagodic-Kuridza and Reed for inside baskets that turned everything upside down, 80-76. Virtus stopped the game with a timeout but couldn’t stop Cobbs, as he connected twice with Reed and Atic to raise the difference to 84-79 in crunch time. Belinelli took over and drew a foul that turned into 3 points for Virtus, which also forced Buducnost into a shot-clock violation with just 20 seconds to go. Teodosic had the opportunity to tie it, but he missed a layup in the following possession that opened the doors for another thrilling win for Buducnost.
Popovic ignites, Cobbs finishes for Buducnost
Buducnost VOLI Podgorica had to wait for 28 minutes to take the lead for the first time, after being down 37-48 at halftime. With increased defensive intensity, the hosts reduced the gap to single digits midway through the third quarter and that was when Marko Popovic provided an extra boost of energy for his team. He entered the court with the hosts behind, 55-59, with 3:28 to go, and immediately produced 2 steals, 1 offensive rebound, 2 free throws and 1 three-pointer in just 1 minute and a half that switched the lead for Buducnost, 62-61. Virtus reacted in style with 3 threes to finish the quarter in front, 64-70, but Justin Cobbs ruined the visitors' hopes with an incredible performance in the last 7 minutes. In that span, Cobbs was involved in all of Buducnost's last 17 points - scoring 9 points and dishing 4 assists, which turned a 69-72 disadvantage into an 86-82 victory.
By the numbers: Fewer Buducnost turnovers enable rally
The hosts had struggled in running the offense for the first two quarters, as they turned the ball over 13 times. Virtus took advantage of that to score 21 points from them, against 4 points from turnovers by Buducnost. That was one of the factors from where the Italian champs built their double-digit lead at halftime, but after the break, the situation turned quite different. Buducnost committed just 2 second-half turnovers, while the visitors went for 9. As a result, the home team collected 12 points off Virtus turnovers, compared to 0 by the visitors. That proved crucial to allow Buducnost to complete a remarkable comeback.
Virtus’s offense comes up short
Being one of the most prolific scoring teams of the competition, Virtus Segafredo Bologna lived up to its reputation for almost three quarters, as it finished the third quarter with 70 points. Three three-pointers in a row by Kevin Hervey, Niccolo Mannion and Marko Belinelli had helped the visitors to contain Buducnost's first comeback attempt at the end of the third, but those were the last triples Virtus would score for the rest of the game. The visitors were held to just 12 points in the final quarter, with just 4 players able to contribute. Cordinier had 4, Tessitori and Belinell added 3 each, while Weems provided 2, which proved too short to avoid the loss.
Wednesday, November 3, 2021