Virtus survives against Bourg after blowing late lead
Virtus Segafredo Bologna wasted an 11-point lead in the fourth quarter but fended off Mincidelice JL Bourg en Bresse 83-82 at home in Group B. The game was close until Virtus went on an 18-1 run spanning the final two quarters to build an 11-point lead. Bourg raced back to tie the game but Kyle Weems drained 2 three-pointers and 2 big free throws in the final 89 seconds to ice the game. Weems and Mam Jaiteh both scored 15 points and Marco Belinelli added 13 points for Virtus, which improved to 6-3. Bourg dropped to 2-7 and has still not won on the road. Jalen Jones led the way with 17 points while JaCorey Williams and Maxime Roos both scored 13 points.
Amar Alibegovic opened the scoring and Williams hit at the other end. Jones gave Bourg its first lead 4-5, the first of five lead changes - with Maxime Courby and Belinelli making three-pointers for either side, the latter of which was followed by an Alessandro Pajola three-point play and Jaiteh score for an 18-12 advantage. Bourg failed to score for almost 3 minutes before Pierre Pelos knocked down a triple. Virtus led 22-17 after 10 minutes.
Jaiteh scored two baskets early in the second quarter, but Bourg started hitting from long range as Pelos, Hugo Benitez and Alexandre Chassang all knocked down triples and Roos nailed two three-pointers and Bourg was up 26-32. Amedeo Tessitori stopped a nearly 4-minute Virtus scoring drought, Isaia Cordinier connected on three-pointers and Weems also hit a three-pointer to put Virtus back ahead 39-37. The hosts led 43-42 at the break.
Weems started the scoring in the second half and CJ Harris put Bourg back ahead with a three-pointer and 6 straight points had the visitors up 47-53. Virtus held Bourg scoreless for the final 5:19 of the quarter and five different players scored - including a Nico Mannion three-pointer - in a 13-0 run to surge back ahead 60-53 after 30 minutes.
Bourg finally ended the 6:13-minute drought with an Axel Julien free throw from a Belinelli technical foul. Jaiteh and Weems scored as Virtus increased the lead to double figures 65-54 with more than 7 minutes left. Roos scored Bourg’s first basket in 9 minutes and then added a three-pointer and layup. Jones added 5 points to complete a 1-12 run to knot the game at 66-66 with less than 4 minutes to play. Virtus punched back with 6 straight points and Weems drained back-to-back three-pointers for a 78-70 cushion with 42 seconds left. Bourg was not dead yet with Courby and Rasheed Sulaimon both hitting triples and Courby adding a steal and layup and Sulaimon knocking down foul shots to pull within 81-80 with 8.2 seconds remaining. Weems’s 2 free throws were matched by 2 from Sulaimon with 5.9 seconds left. But Virtus was able to run out the clock for the win.
Pajola does best in filling in for Teodosic
Virtus came into the game without leading playmaker Milos Teodosic, who went down with an injury during Italian League action earlier in the week. Alessandro Pajola did his best to help fill in for the veteran’s absence. The 22-year-old chipped in 7 points as well as 4 rebounds and 9 assists for a performance index rating of 15 before fouling out after more than 24 minutes. The 9 assists were a career-high for Pajola, who committed 3 turnovers in the game.
Jalen Jones makes strong debut
In the past week, Bourg tried to add reinforcements to turn around its season with the signing of Jalen Jones, who had played 13 games in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague for Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz in 2018-19. The 28-year-old forward had a strong debut in the EuroCup as he scored a team-high 17 points - making 7 of 14 shots and 2 of 4 free throws. Jones also picked up 6 rebounds, 1 assist and 2 steals for an index rating of 17.
Telling numbers - Virtus defends well on two-pointers
Virtus came into the game as one of the offensive powerhouses, leading the league in assists and three-point shooting and ranking second in points and two-point shooting percentage. But defensively, Sergio Scariolo’s team had been giving up the third-most points while ranking 15th in opponents’ two-point percentage at 55.8%. Virtus rose to the challenge against Bourg though, holding the French club to just 46.0% on two-pointers. Virtus also connected on 78.3% of its free throws - which showed its importance at the end.
Wednesday, January 12, 2022