Montepaschi Siena has been nothing but spectacular in Italian Serie A play this season, grinding to an impressive 26-1 record through long season. No teams knows that better than Petteri Koponen's Virtus Bologna that suffered a heart-breaking 69-70 defeat this February in Italian Cup final against Siena. That's why Virtus was extra-motivated to extend their winning streak to eight consecutive when Siena came to town last Thursday. Things started smoothly for the home team and Virtus was leading 71-63 with just under six minutes to play, but then Siena began to take over and took the lead with Terrell McIntyre's three-pointer just before the regulation's final minute started. Earl Boykins answered with a three-pointer of his own, but Lithuanian Rimantas Kaukenas tied the game at the buzzer and Siena showed that they have routine no other team in Italy can touch, winning the game 86-89 (44-34, 78-78).
Our own Petteri started the game alongside Earl Boykins and played 17 minutes, mostly playing the role of enforcer, trying to make the night as bad as possible for . Even though Petteri's defence was once again stable, his stat-line wasn't all that impressive. Petteri missed all three of his field goal attempts and ended up with three rebounds, one assist, one turnover and three fouls.
Just three days after the hard fought battle against Siena, Virtus Bologna faced another formidable opponent in form of Carife Ferrara. Ferrara is 9th in Serie A standings, but the team has been undeachieving throughout the season and they definitely do have good enough personnel to compete in the playoffs. Bologna couldn't get things going and were trailing 52-38 at halftime, and even though they briefly made it a game in the beginning of fourth quarter, Ferrara pulled away with 93-84 victory. Bologna now stands at 17 wins and 10 losses and they are tied with Brandon Jennings' Lottomatica Roma in the second spot of Serie A standings. Petteri Koponen started the Ferrara game but played only nine minutes and missed his both field goal attempts.
Virtus Bologna - Montepaschi Siena 86-89 (44-34, 78-78)
Virtus: Earl Boykins 20/7/5as, Keith Langford 19/9/3st, Reyshawn Terry 14/6.
Siena: Terrell McIntyre 25/2/6as, Shaun Stonerook 16/13/5as/3st, Rimantas Kaukenas 15/3.
Carife Ferrara - Virtus Bologna 93-84 (52-38)
Ferrara: Andre Collins 25/5/5as/5st, 14/4, Daniel Farabello 12/3/4as.
Bologna: Guilherme Giovannoni 18/8/5st, Keith Langford 14/0, Dusan Vukcevic 12/2/3as.
Virtus won't play their next Serie A game before April 30th, when they travel to Teramo to face BancaTercas, which is currently 5th in Serie A standings. This week, Virtus Bologna is hosting FIBA EuroChallenge Cup Final Four at FuturShow Station. Bologna beat German Bundesleague team Telekom Baskets Bonn 2-0 in best of three series and now has the opportunity to celebrate EuroChallenge championship in front of home crowd.
Virtus is going to face Proteas EKA AEL of Cyprus in their semi-final game April 24th. The Cypriot (?) team features former NBA players LaVell Blanchard and Aleksandar Radojevic, but their cornerstone players throughout EuroChallenge play have been Americans Quincy Taylor and Darrel Mitchell, Montenegrian Vujadin Subotic and Bosnian Haris Mujezinovic. The other semi-final match-up is Cholet Basket of France and BC Triumph of Russia. Cholet Basket is lead by dynamic young guards Rodrigue Beaubois and Nando de Colo, US-born guard Kevin Braswell and, of course, DeceptivelyQuick's fan favorite Steeve Ho You Fat.
BC Triumph is probably best known for letting Nenad Krstic walk in the middle of the season and join the OKC Thunder, but they do have a couple of dangerous players left in Marque Perry, J.R. Bremer, Marcus Goree and Fedor Dmitriev. The EuroChallenge final will be played Sunday 26th of April.
-H.T. still can't get past Montepaschi Siena