A very exciting game between two European giants will be played tomorrow in Bologna, where Virtus will host Barcelona in Round 24 of the EuroLeague.
While Virtus returned to the EuroLeague after a very long absence, they can be considered giants in European basketball, as they are the first team to win the EuroLeague in the modern era (since the clubs and ULEB at the time decided to organise EuroLeague). In 2001, in the first year of competition, Kinder Bologna defeated Tau Ceramica (Baskonia) in the Finals, led by an MVP-caliber performance by Manu Ginobili. Virtus would qualify for the final again the next season, but soon after that the team started to have financial difficulties and could never regain its place as a European powerhouse.
But now the high ambitions are back in Bologna and after 23 rounds the bianconeri are still in the race of reaching the playoffs in the EuroLeague. Sergio Scariolo’s team is currently 12th in the standings with an 11-12 record, but they are just one win behind 7th place Partizan, which shows how balanced the EuroLeague is this season. The Italians are in a good shape too now, as they have 4 wins in a row if we count the Italian League too. Injuries are still an issue for the team like it was the whole season, but Bologna has talent, an experienced coach and great fans, where home-court advantage matters.
The visiting team is also on a good streak, winning both games in last week’s double-round. Also, if we look at all competitions, Barca won 7 of their last 8 games. The Blaugrana team is just one win behind the 1st place in the EuroLeague and they are tied for 1st in the ACB, but as coach Jasikevicius pointed out, they are still making mistakes and many times they are allowing opposing teams to come back in games. Against strong teams, this can be fatal, like in the defeat against Real Madrid two weeks ago, when Barca lost a 9-point advantage they had at the beginning of the 4th quarter.
Image credit: EuroLeague