UNICS returns to the 7DAYS EuroCup Finals!
In one of the best, most intense games in competition history, UNICS advanced to the 7DAYS EuroCup Finals by downing Virtus Segafredo Bologna 100-107 on the road in the do-or-die Game 3 of their semifinals series on Wednesday. UNICS will face AS Monaco in the finals, a best-of-three series that starts at Basket Hall Kazan on Tuesday, April 27. Jamar Smith and Okaro White led the winners with 22 points apiece. John Brown added 20 points and 8 rebounds, Nate Wolters scored 17 points and John Holland had 14 for UNICS. Milos Teodosic paced Virtus with 25 points, Marco Belinelli scored 24, Vince Hunter 13 and Josh Adams 10. UNICS's victory came with an added bonus as it gained eligibility to compete in the 2021-22 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague. Belinelli and Teodosic helped Virtus to a 48-46 lead at halftime. Brown and Holland stepped up for UNICS and Smith boosted his team's lead to 67-73 at the end of the third quarter. Virtus managed to get within 77-79 but Smith, Wolters and White all stepped up in crunch time to help UNICS record one of its biggest victories ever.
Isaiah Canaan and White each hit a triple to get UNICS going, but Teodosic struck twice from downtown and Giampaolo Ricci joined the three-point shootout to give Virtus a 9-6 lead. Kyle Weems followed a tip-in with an alley-oop layup. Holland sank a three-pointer to keep UNICS within 13-9. Ricci scored down low and got help from Vince Hunter and Amar Alibegovic to boost the hosts' lead to 19-15. Wolters downed a couple of triples and Brown helped UNICS tie the game at 21-21 after 10 minutes. Alibegovic dunked early in the second quarter, but Smith followed a jumper with a bomb from beyond the arc for a 25-28 UNICS lead. Belinelli stepped up with 7 quick points, but Smith and Canaan each struck from downtown to make it 32-35. Teodosic buried his third triple and Belinelli added a jumper in a 7-0 run that prompted UNICS to stop the game at 39-35. Brown took over with a layup-plus-foul that Stefan Markovic matched with a deep three-pointer. White and Brown kept pushing UNICS, but Vince Hunter kept the hosts in charge. Free throws by Holland and Belinelli fixed the halftime score at 48-46.
Brown swished a jumper after the break and Holland struck from beyond the arc for a 49-51 UNICS edge. Teodosic answered from downtown and added a layup but Wolters and Smith kept the visitors in charge, 54-56. White banked in a mid-range shot and Holland scored in penetration, prompting Virtus to call timeout at 54-60. Weems and Brown traded baskets and Smith sank a jumper for a 56-64 UNICS lead. Hunter erased Brown's jumper with a slam and Teodosic gave Virtus plenty of hope at 63-68. Holland and Smith each hit a jumper to restore a 67-73 UNICS lead after 30 minutes. Adams and Belinelli each buried a three-pointer early in the fourth quarter but Wolters and Brown gave UNICS fresh air at 73-77. White hit free throws and then Okaro White and Smith struck from downtown for a 78-85 lead with less than 6 minutes left. Weems stepped up with a put-back basket and Belinelli added a layup, but White scored twice in the paint and Wolters's jumper made it 82-91. Wolters and Smith each hit a three-pointer, but Belinelli and Teodosic kept Virtus alive at 92-96 with 1:17 left. Canaan sank an 11-meter triple that sealed the outcome and sent UNICS to the 2021 EuroCup Finals.
Okaro White stepped up big, especially after Jordan Morgan went down with an injury midway through the second quarter. He finished the game with 22 points on 5-of-7 two-point shooting, 2-of-3 on three-pointers and 6-of-6 on free throws. He added 4 rebounds and 5 fouls drawn for a PIR of 22.
Virtus got within 77-79 with 6 minutes left, but Okaro White and Jamar Smith each hit a three-pointer to give UNICS fresh air in a critical moment. White punished his former team with a couple of close-range baskets and then Nate Wolters joined the three-point shootout to give UNICS a double-digit lead, 84-94, that Virtus did not overcome.
UNICS had a much better three-point shooting percentage, making 14 of 29 shots from downtown (48.3%). Virtus only buried 12 of 31 (38.7%), while committing 14 turnovers. UNICS only turned the ball over 9 times in the game.
Did you know?
UNICS is set to play the EuroCup Finals for the third time in club history. It lifted the trophy in 2011 after beating Cajasol Sevilla and lost against Valencia in the 2014 Finals. UNICS also earned the right to play the EuroLeague for the fourth time, after previous experiences in the 2011-12, 2014-15 and 2016-17 seasons.
UNICS hosts Game 1 of the EuroCup Finals against Monaco on Tuesday, April 27. In their only previous matchups, Monaco defeated UNICS twice in the 2019-20 season. Virtus finished its 2020-21 EuroCup campaign with a 19-2 record.
Wednesday, April 14, 2021