Virtus sinks Promitheas
Segafredo Virtus Bologna never trailed en route to defeating visiting Promitheas Patras 88-75 on Wednesday night. With both teams previously qualified, the win improved Virtus's record to 7-2 and moved into sole possession of first place in Group A, while Promitheas dropped to 6-3. Virtus also claimed the head-to-head tiebreaker against Promitheas by overcoming a 9-point loss from Round 4. Virtus opened the game with a 14-0 run, but the visitors melted the deficit until tying the game at 51-51 midway through the third quarter. However, Promitheas never went in front as Frank Gaines found ways to score and Milos Teodosic made important baskets to help Virtus win by double figures. Gaines finished with 16 points, Kyle Weems had 14 points and 6 rebounds, while Marco Delia scored 12 in a winning effort. Chase Fieler netted 20 points and Chris Babb shot his way to 17 points, making 5 of 8 three-pointers for Promitheas.
Virtus dominated early on with Gaines, Weems and Julian Gamble scoring inside and Giampaolo Ricci netting a triple that opened a 14-0 lead. Promitheas needed 6 and a half minutes to score before Fieler hit a triple, at the same time starting a 0-8 run which Babb capped with his first three-pointer. Babb added another one from downtown, and a buzzer-beater from Dimitris Katsivelis made it 19-16 at the end of the first quarter. Virtus scored the first 8 points of the second quarter, including a triple-plus-foul from David Cournooh, in opening a 27-16 margin. Babb hit a pair of triples, with Fieler's fastbreak dunk in between, that cut it to 32-26. However, Virtus kept the margin safe with a three-point play from Filippo Baldi Rossi before Weems and Kaselakis traded triples with Virtus taking a 44-35 cushion into halftime.
Babb opened the third quarter with a three-pointer before Fieler added a three and a big dunk. More three-pointers, one from Oleksandr Lypovyy and another from Fieler, helped the visitors tie the game at 51-51 midway through the third. Ricci inside and Gaines from outside got Virtus back in front and Alessandro Pajola's long-range shot helped the hosts take a 65-59 edge into the final quarter. Gerald Robinson knocked down a three for the hosts, but Teodosic had a runner and a triple to fuel a 7-0 run and open a 74-62 margin. Fieler hit another triple for the visitors, but Gaines repeatedly got to the free-throw line to keep Virtus with a double-digit lead. A second-chance three-pointer from Ricci made it 86-73 as Virtus closed out the game.
What it means
Everything is still wide open in Group A. Virtus can clinch the first place with a win in Round 10, but could still finish as low as third if it losses at AS Monaco. Meanwhile, Promitheas cannot be first and a loss against MoraBanc Andorra next week would lock it into fourth place.
The duo steps up
Frank Gaines had 3 points to his tally when Promithes tied it at 51-51 with 4 minutes to go in the third quarter, but ended up scoring a team-high 16 while making 11 of 12 free throws. Milos Teodosic did not attempt a field goal until 8 minutes left in the game, but made a runner and a triple in a 7-0 run that pushed the margin to 74-62 and Virtus never looked back.
Cutting down on turnovers
Each team had 6 turnovers in the first quarter, but then took a lot better control of the ball the rest of the way. Virtus finished with 12 turnovers, and Promitheas committed 14 for the night.
Without its starting point guard Langston Hall, Promitheas was held to 15 assists, tied for a season-low. However, it made it up by hitting 13 three-pointers, its second-most this season.
In Round 10 next week, Virtus travels to face AS Monaco, while Promitheas will welcome MoraBanc Andorra to put an end to the regular season.
Wednesday, December 11, 2019