Monday, February 23, 2009

Petteri Koponen Watch: Travis Best still playing edition

H.T. keeps us informed on the Italian experiences of Blazer's draftee Petteri Koponen...

Virtus Bologna was basically a minute away from Italian Cup title. Unfortunately, in basketball, one minute is half an eternity. There was just enough time in the shot clock for Montepaschi Siena's Henry Domercant to score the winning basket and for Virtus Bologna to turn the ball over once. Montepaschi Siena's dominance of Italian basketball leagues continued with 70-69 Cup final victory.

Less than two months ago, Montepaschi had smacked Bologna in Italian regular season game more than 20 points. This time it wasn't the case. Even though Montepaschi Siena maintained the lead for 38 minutes, they couldn't really pull away during the game. Siena was leading 42-28 briefly in the third quarter, but Bologna just refused to go away.

Petteri Koponen started the Cup final but was benched after just four minutes of play. Petteri looked kind of lost in the court in the opening minutes and didn't get to play before the end of third quarter, when he stepped in for Earl Boykins. Petteri answered with a three-pointer just before the third quarter buzzer and opened the fourth quarter with a defensive rebound and a jumper from the free throw line, drawing roars from the hometown crowd. With five minutes remaining in the game, Petteri was pulled to the bench for good.

Petteri ended up with 5 pts-1 reb-1 as statline in 13 minutes (fg 2/3). Keith Langford had 20 points and 5 steals and Earl Boykins 16 pts-5 reb-5 as for Virtus Bologna. The game MVP was Montepaschi Siena's Shaun Stonerook, who had 10 points, 14 rebounds and 5 steals. Henry Domercant scored 12, Benjamin Eze and Ksistof Lavrinovic 11.

In the semi-final game, Bologna ran away from Banca Tercas Teramo 98-90 with Sharrod Ford having a monster night with 26 points and 14 rebounds. Earl Boykins had 18 points and 10 assists. Petteri Koponen played only 9 minutes in the game, ending up with one missed field goal and one personal foul.

The schedule will leave Virtus Bologna no time to feel sorry for the bitter cup finals loss. Turkish team Galatasaray Cafe Crown will travel to Bologna this Wednesday for the FIBA EuroChallenge Game. This Sunday, Bologna meets Air Avellino in road game. Avellino is lead by US players Travis Best (!), Chris Warren and Drake Diener and experienced Italian power forward Nikola Radulovic.

-H.T.

UPDATE: More Koponen, including season stats, over at BlazersEdge. You know, no one has ever seen the "friendly Finnish Sportswriter" that contributes to BlazersEdge and H.T. at the same time in the same place. Finland, I'm watching you.

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