Virtus Take Third

15.04.2007

Virtus Bologna overcame the disappointment of Friday’s semi-final loss against Azovmash Mariupol to claim victory against MMT Estudiantes in the game for third place at the EuroCup Final Four in Girona.

In what proved to be a lacklustre affair, Bologna managed to build a small lead in the first quarter which they then protected with little difficulty for the remainder of the contest.

"I am happy that we showed resolve after losing in the semi-finals," said Virtus Head Coach Zare Markovski.

"We especially were strong on defense and that made the difference. It was also key for us that our young players came in and gave us solid minutes which allowed our veterans to rest."

After a close first quarter, Virtus turned a seven point lead (27-20) into double digits at the half (47:37).

The lead quickly reached double figures in the third quarter as Estudiantes' missed shots and turnovers continued to hamper any efforts to make the game competitive.

The loss compounded what proved to be a miserable Final Four for Estudiantes. Coming into the event with an 11-game winning streak, Estudiantes could not find anything approaching their recent form.

They committed a whopping 48 turnovers in their two games, including 23 against Bologna. They also struggled from long range and hit just 17.6% of their three-point field goal attempts (3/17).

"We went on a run with 11 wins in which we were strong mentally and physically and this has taken its toll," said Estudiantes coach Mario De Pablos.

"We know how we are capable of playing basketball and I am sure after these games we can get back to level we are capable of and win."

The only consolation for Estudiantes was the presence of 500 or so of their fans, who despite the dissapointment of their team's performance, remained in fine voice.

They stayed in the Pavilion Fontejau at least 30 minutes after the loss to Girona, and carried on singing "Este partido vamos a ganar" (we are going to win this game), well into the fourth quarter of the blowout against Virtus.

Their encouragement was enough for De Pablos to offer his apologies in the post game press conference.

"We want to thank the fans for their support and apologise for not giving them more," he said. 

Fabio Di Bella (12 points), Travis Best (11 points) and Vlado Illievski (10 points) reached double figures in scoring for Virtus.

Will Mc Donald led Estudiantes with 15.


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