Virtus Bologna beat Olimpia Milan 84-78 in Game 5 of the Serie A Finals and managed to survive in the series.
The team coached by Sergio Scariolo was trailing 3-1 and thus the win on Thursday evening was mandatory. From the very beginning, Virtus showed that they have no intention of letting Milan players celebrate the title in front of the Bologna fans that packed the arena again. The Bianconeri started the game on fire and finished the first quarter with a 13-point advantage, 25-12. Milan slowly started to get back in the game: by half time they were down only by 3 points (42-39). After a balanced 3rd quarter, Milan took the lead for the first time in the 4th quarter after a Kyle Hines basket (62-64). However, veterans Milos Teodosic, Tornike Shengelia and Marco Belinelli scored some important points and Bologna won in the end, extending the series at least for another game.
The two teams scored only 9 three-pointers combined (4 for Virtus, 5 for Milan). Milan also scored more points from the free-throw line and with a better percentage. The big difference in favour of Virtus was at the 2-point shots: the Bianconeri made 70% of their 2-pointers, while Milan shot a poor 51%. Virtus had more turnovers, but also more assists, 20 vs 15 for Milan.
Virtus won the game with only three players scoring in double digits. Mouhammadou Jaiteh was the MVP of the game: the French center scored 17 points and grabbed 13 rebounds for a PIR of 34. Tornike Shengelia scored 15 and Marco Belinelli finished with 11 points. Milan had four players in double digits in the losing effort: Nicolo Melli with 20 points, Sergio Rodriguez with 18 points, Kyle Hines with 15 and Devon Hall with 11 points.
Game 6 will be played in the Mediolanum Forum tomorrow evening and the pressure is now on Milan: with a win they are champions, but in case they lose the decisive Game 7 will move back to Bologna. It would be a historic comeback for Virtus if they win the title being down 3-1 and the tensions started to rise even more after Game 5. Virtus owner Massimo Zanetti accused the referees of helping Milan in the Finals, which prompted a response from Milan, asking the Federation to impose some sanctions against the Virtus owner for his comments.
Image credit: Virtus Bologna