Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Koponen vs Honka

H.T. checks in with an update on our man The Finnagler, featuring an impressive upset for his old team...

The Finnish national team ended their Eurobasket qualification games with
a 88-73 victory over Hungary last Saturday. The national team players
returned to their clubs in the beginning of the week. Finland's
starting point guard Petteri Koponen didn't have to go far away,
because his newest team, Virtus Bologna, had arrived to Finland to
play a preseason game against Koponen's former team and last spring's
Finnish champion, Honka Playboys.

Koponen played a grand total of 10:57 minutes in his debut with Virtus
, finishing with four rebounds, one assist and one turnover.
Koponen missed both of his field goal attempts and admitted that it's
wasn't the easiest possible game for him.

"I've been practicing with my new team for just a couple of times
now. It's hard to call a play when I can only memorize a few of the
games in my new team's playbook", said Koponen.

"In the final quarter I finally realized my four years with Honka are
over. I've spent some great seasons with these fine players here and
now it's all over."

Virtus Bologna apparently expected to cruise to an easy victory and
was shocked when point guard Akeem Scott led Honka to a 20-9 start.
Virtus got back into the game with Jamie Arnold netting consecutive
treys, but it was Honka that took control of the game.

Honka maintained a 1-5 point lead for the first fifteen minutes of
second half with Kimmo Muurinen dominating in the low post and Jukka
Matinen draining his shots effectively and clinched the game with a
11-0 run in the middle of fourth quarter, opened by Monte Cummings
dunk and ended by Ben Perkins' consecutive jumpers.

- Honka outplayed us, simply and clearly. They came in ready to play,
we didn't. Luckily this is just a preseason game. We will have to be
ready once Serie A begins, stated Virtus coach Renato Pasquali.

Honka coach Mihailo Pavicevic demanded respect for the job well done
and said Finnish basketball has reached higher level than any Finnish
basketball viewer would admit.

- It's time to start respecting Finnish basketball and Finnish
players. Our starting five is on a good European level and the
subtitute players will have the whole regular season to develop.

Virtus Bologna and Petteri Koponen will return to Italy this Friday.
Season 2008/2009 will be 20-year old Koponen's first as a
professional. Koponen won the Finnish MVP award last season after
averaging 19 points, 3,9 assists, 3,4 rebounds and 1,8 steals a game
while draining 56,4 % of his 2pt attempts and 42,6 % of his 3pt

In eight Eurobasket qualification games this summer, Koponen averaged
12,8 points, 2,9 assists and 2,5 rebounds a game while making 84,4 %
of his free throw attempts.

Honka Playboys - Virtus Bologna 86-74 (43-40)

Honka: Kimmo Muurinen 11/10/4ast, Akeem Scott 17/2/3 stl, Ben Perkins
11/3/3 stl, Sasu Salin 5/0, Monte Cummings 18/5, Petri Heinonen 6/2,
Jukka Matinen 18/2, Eldar Skamo 0/0.

Virtus: Sharrod Ford 2/2, Petteri Koponen 0/4, Bret Blizzard 9/1,
Jamie Arnold 20/3, Alex Righetti 3/1, Earl Boykins 12/4/4 ast,
Guilherme Giovanni 2/5, Roberto Chiracig 4/3, Andre Langford 14/2,
Dusan Vukcevic 8/3.